Physical activity, waist circumference, smoking, alcohol intake, and diet. These five factors have a strong influence on helping to prevent colorectal cancer, reports the British Medical Journal. In fact, the study (conducted on middle-aged people in Denmark) shows that nearly a quarter (23%) of colorectal cancer cases could be prevented with a healthy lifestyle.
"Our study reveals . . . that even modest differences in lifestyle might have a substantial impact on colorectal cancer risk, and emphasizes the importance of continuing vigorous efforts to convince people to follow the lifestyle recommendations," the authors conclude in MedScape Today. The team is from the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology at the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The team examined 55,487 individuals aged between 50 and 64 who had no history of cancer. These individuals were monitored for more than ten years. According to Medical News Today, the investigators created a lifestyle index with the help of health recommendations from Nordic Nutrition, World Cancer Research Fund and the World Health Organization, which included 30 minutes or more per day of physical activity, consuming no more than 7 alcohol drinks for women and 14 for men per week, not smoking, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and having a waistline of no more than 88cm for women and 102 for men.
This is one of the first studies to take a hard look at the impact of multiple healthy behaviors, as opposed to just one. And the number of healthy behaviors mattered.
"If all participants had followed merely 1 additional recommendation, we estimate that 13% of the cases of colorectal cancer might have been prevented," the researchers wrote. "Furthermore, we estimate that 23% of the colorectal cancers in this cohort were associated with a lack of adherence to the recommendations for the 5 lifestyle factors included in our study."
To learn more about the cancer featured in this post, please visit our colorectal cancer information page.