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Colon cancer

Healthy Lifestyle Associated with Lower Risk for Colorectal Cancer

A good diet and more physical activity are among factors associated with lower colon cancer risk.

Colorectal cancer occurs primarily in western countries, suggesting that lifestyle factors contribute to risk. In a Danish cohort study that involved more than 55,000 people (age range, 50–64), investigators determined the association between a simple lifestyle index and incidence of colon cancer. At baseline, the participants scored 1 point for each of the following:

  • Not smoking
  • Being physically active 30 minutes daily
  • Weekly alcohol intake 7 drinks for women and 14 drinks for men
  • Waist circumference < 35 inches for women and < 40 inches for men
  • A healthy diet (i.e., rich in fruits and vegetables and low in fat and red meat)
  • The sum of these scores generated a lifestyle-index score ranging from 0 (least healthy) to 5 (most healthy).
During average follow-up of 10 years, 678 participants developed colorectal cancer. After adjustments for multiple confounders, the lifestyle-index score was linearly and significantly associated with colorectal cancer risk. Overall, 13% of cases might have been prevented if all participants had 1 extra point in their score, and 23% of cases might have been prevented if all participants had a baseline score of 5.
Comment: No surprises here: Simple lifestyle factors are associated with lower risk for colorectal cancer (and other diseases). The great challenge for clinicians is to motivate people to embrace a healthy lifestyle.



Reference:  Kirkegaard H et al. Association of adherence to lifestyle recommendations and risk of colorectal cancer: A prospective Danish cohort study. BMJ 2010 Oct 26; 341:c5504. ( 10.1136/bmj.c5504)