LOS ANGELES - Colon cancer is most common in Westernized countries, such as the United States and European nations. That means lifestyle has a lot to do with why the disease develops. A study published yesterday confirms that adhering to five basic health tenets could dramatically reduce the risk.
In a study of more than 55,000 Danish men and women ages 50 to 64, researchers found these five factors cut colorectal cancer risk by 23 percent:
Drinking no more than seven alcoholic drinks a week for women and 14 drinks for men.
A waist circumference below 34.6 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
Consuming a healthful diet.
Being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day.
The participants did not have colorectal cancer at the start of the study and were followed for an average of almost 10 years to see who developed cancer (678 people).
Even modest lifestyle changes can have an effect, the authors noted. If all of the study participants improved their lifestyles to follow one additional recommendation, 13 percent of colorectal cancer cases could have been avoided.
A similar study published in 2009 found that 43 percent of colorectal cancers could be prevented if people improved fiber intake to at least 30 grams a day, minimized intake of red and processed meats to 10 grams or less per day, did not drink alcohol, were physically active for at least 150 minutes a day and had a body mass index of less than 25.
The authors of the new study, published online in the British Medical Journal, considered waist circumference a better measurement of health than body mass index.