Healthy lifestyle reduces bowel cancer risk by 23%
Almost a quarter of colorectal (or bowel) cancer cases could be prevented if people followed healthy lifestyle advice in five areas including diet and exercise, according to new research.
Research published in the BMJ found that following recommendations on physical activity, waist circumference, smoking, alcohol and diet could reduce the risk of developing the third most common cancer in the UK by 23%.
The Danish researchers studied data on 55,487 men and women aged 50-64 (bowel cancer is rare amongst people under 40) not previously diagnosed with cancer and followed them for almost 10 years up to 2006 during which 678 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer. Participants filled in a lifestyle questionnaire including questions about social factors, health status, reproductive factors and lifestyle habits as well as a questionnaire developed to assess average food intake over 12 months.
The researchers took five internationally accepted public health recommendations:
- being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day,
- for men, having no more than 14 alcoholic drinks a week (seven for women)
- not smoking
- for men, having a waist circumference below 102 cm (40 inches) (88 cm for women)
- eating a healthy diet
After looking at how the participants managed to keep to each of the five lifestyle recommendations, the researchers calculated that if all participants (except the healthiest) had followed even one additional recommendation, it was possible that 13% of the bowel cancer cases could have been prevented. If all participants had followed all five recommendations, then 23% of the bowel cancer cases could have been avoided.
The researchers conclude: 'Our study reveals the useful public health message that even modest differences in lifestyle might have a substantial impact on colorectal cancer risk and emphasises the importance of continuing vigorous efforts to convince people to follow the lifestyle recommendations.'
More than 38,600 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, killing more than 16,250 people each year.
Page created on October 27th, 2010
Page updated on October 27th, 2010