The good news is that almost 1 in 4 cases of colorectal cancer could be prevented if people followed healthy lifestyle advice in five key areas including diet and exercise, says a new study published on the British Medical Journal website.
Researchers from Denmark studied more than 55,000 adults aged 50-64 (bowel cancer is rare amongst people under 40) for almost 10 years and found that adhering to the following lifestyle recommendations could reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer significantly -- by 23 percent:
1. DietConsuming a healthy diet. Cut back on red meat and fat, and up your intake of vegetables, folate and fibre.
2. Physical activityBeing active for at least 30 minutes a day -- moderate exercise on most days of the week can help lower your risk of bowel cancer.
3. Waist circumferenceHaving a waist circumference below 88 cm for women and 102 cm for men. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor of bowel cancer.
4. AlcoholHaving no more than 7 drinks a week for women and 14 drinks a week for men. Alcohol consumption may increase risk, especially for those with low levels of folate in their diet.
5. SmokingStaying away from tobacco. Although not as strong a risk factor as for other cancers, smoking can increase risk of bowel cancer especially in heavy drinkers.
After studying how the participants managed to stick 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 percent of the bowel cancer cases could have been avoided. And if all participants had followed all five recommendations, 23 percent of the bowel cancer cases could have been prevented.