What Causes a Hyperplastic Polyp?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2016
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A hyperplastic polyp is a type of slow-growing mass found in the body’s colon. This abnormal growth is generally small and non-cancerous, and several factors may cause it. Poor diet and poor health choices are often the primary factors. Inflammatory diseases and genetic vulnerabilities may also create conditions for a polyp. As an individual ages, the chance of developing a hyperplastic polyp grows as well.

Statistics indicate that a hyperplastic polyp accounts for about nine out of ten polyp cases. Distinguishing characteristics of these mostly benign protrusions include a smaller than average size and a rough surface. The latter characteristic marks the growths as serrated polyps. They may or may not cause bleeding from the rectum, and the bleeding may constitute the only symptom of the polyp.

Frequent cases of bowel inflammation can create conditions for hyperplastic polyp development. For example, Crohn’s disease refers to chronic intestinal irritation, and ulcerative colitis is a condition where ulcers or sores form inside the intestine along the mucous membrane lining. Both ailments can assist in polyp formation. Polyp development from these conditions, however, will likely be accompanied by prominent symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and burning sensations. Although exact causes remain a mystery, some researchers theorize that genetics or poor lifestyle habits play a role in these diseases.


Health choices and diet have long been associated with growth of polyps. Continuous high-fat, low-fiber food intake may increase the chance of colon issues, and beef appears to be particularly harsh on the organ. Further, obesity and low levels of exercise, calcium, and folic acid impact the gastrointestinal tract. Smoking may even create unfavorable conditions inside the colon. Advanced age will likely exacerbate any of these risk factors, as polyp cases tend to increase as individuals grow older.

Hyperplastic polyps that occur in clusters may result from a genetically inherited disease. This condition is known as hyperplastic polypsis syndrome. Larger polyps and polyp numbers exceeding 30 may indicate the syndrome. If an individual has close relatives with similar colon issues, it may serve as a further indicator of genetic underpinnings. When a polyp can be attributed to genetic causes, the chances of the polyp becoming cancerous are increased.

Several procedures can either remove or shrink polyps. Colonoscopies, endoscopic mucosal resection, and polypectomies are three such options. Only the most extreme cases should require a partial removal of the colon itself, a procedure known as a colonectomy. If the polyps are non-invasive and do not pose a major risk, physicians may also take a watchful waiting approach.


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