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The Continuous Update Project (CUP) is an ongoing program that analyzes global research on how diet, nutrition and physical activity affect cancer risk and survival.

A major milestone in cancer research, the Third Expert Report analyzes and synthesizes the evidence gathered in CUP reports and serves as a vital resource for anyone interested in preventing cancer.

Whether you are a healthcare provider, a researcher, or just someone who wants to learn more about cancer prevention, we’re here to help.

AICR has pushed research to new heights, and has helped thousands of communities better understand the intersection of lifestyle, nutrition, and cancer.

Read real-life accounts of how AICR is changing lives through cancer prevention and survivorship.

We bring a detailed policy framework to our advocacy efforts, and provide lawmakers with the scientific evidence they need to achieve our objectives.

AICR champions research that increases understanding of the relationship between nutrition, lifestyle, and cancer.

AICR’s resources can help you navigate questions about nutrition and lifestyle, and empower you to advocate for your health.

AICR is committed to putting what we know about cancer prevention into action. To help you live healthier, we’ve taken the latest research and made 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations.

Colorectal Cancer

Arm yourself with information.

Besides age, lifestyle factors are among the main risk factors for colorectal cancer. Find out how your dietary decisions and day to day habits relate to risk, and discover how easy it is to make healthy changes.

This content was last updated on December 18, 2019

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the US. Obesity is one of the many lifestyle factors associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

AICR’S latest report on colorectal cancer found that eating fiber-rich foods, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk. Eating high amounts of red and processed meat, drinking excess alcohol and carrying extra body fat were all linked to a higher risk.

Read Full Report

CUP report on Colorectal Cancer:

Lifestyle and colorectal cancer risk.

  • Weight

    As you gain excess body fat, your risk for colorectal cancer increases.

    1. Being overweight and obese increases blood levels of insulin and related hormones that can encourage the growth of cancer.
    2. Excess fat also creates a pro-inflammatory environment in the body that can contribute to the growth of cancer.
  • Alcohol

    Risk for colorectal cancer increases as alcohol intake increases, starting at about 2 or more drinks per day.

    • The body converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, a potent carcinogen.
    • Alcohol may act as a solvent, making it easier for carcinogens to penetrate the cells lining the colon.
    • Alcohol can adversely affect how efficiently the body repairs DNA damage and defends against free radicals.
  • Physical Activity

    Regular physical activity protects against colorectal cancer.

  • Age

    The older you are, the greater your risk.

  • Red Meat

    Diets high in beef, pork and lamb increase colorectal cancer risk, which is why AICR recommends limiting red meat to 18 ounces (cooked) per week.

    • Red meat contains heme iron, which has been linked to the kind of cellular damage that increases risk.
    • The red meat stimulates the production of potentially carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds in the body.
    • Diets high in beef, pork and lamb increase colorectal cancer risk.
  • Processed Meats

    Regular intake of even small amounts of cold cuts, bacon, sausage and hot dogs increases colorectal cancer risk.

    • Nitrates are added to many processed meats; they contribute to the production of N-nitroso compounds, which can damage the lining of the gut.
  • Healthy Diet

    A plant-based diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains can lower risk.

    • Foods containing fiber lower risk for colorectal cancer
    • Plant foods contain a wide variety of substances — such as carotenoids, selenium, lycopene — that may protect against cancer in many ways.
    • Oatmeal, brown rice and other wholegrains lower risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Smoking

Take a moment to check in with your health:

Foods that fight colorectal cancer.

No single food can protect you against cancer by itself. But research shows that a diet filled with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and other plant foods helps lower risk for many cancers.

Cancer Updates

The science of survival.

AICR’s health guides and recommendations are developed from research that focuses on how nutrition and lifestyle affect the prevention, treatment, and survival of cancer. Paramount to our updates is the Continuous Update Project which helps you stay on top of new findings, and understand the data that sits at the center of our work.

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