Following at least two healthy behaviors that are key AICR Recommendations, such as eating a healthy diet and being active, lowers the risk of colorectal cancer to some degree, with the more you follow the lower the risk, suggests a new study that highlights the importance of practicing multiple healthy behaviors.
Published in BMC Medicine, the study joins a growing body of independent research that investigates how AICR Recommendations for Cancer Prevention link to reduced risk of specific cancers, survivors, and mortality. Here are some of those other studies.
This latest study was conducted among 350,000 Europeans ages 25 to 70. They are part of the large European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), which spans 10 countries. When people joined EPIC they gave information about their diet, smoking, activity and other lifestyle habits.
The researchers then assigned one point for each of the AICR Recommendations people met: being a healthy weight; being physically activity; drinking no more than 2 servings of alcohol a day for men; no more than 1 serving a day for women; having a healthy diet, which includes high amounts of fruits, vegetables and fiber, and low amounts of red and processed meat. They also received a point for not smoking.
After an average of 12 years, those who followed the most healthy behaviors had the lowest risk of colorectal cancer, compared to those who followed one or fewer.
The Europeans who practiced a combination of two, three, four and all the five healthy behaviors had a 13%, 21%, 34% and 37% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer, respectively, compared to those who followed none or one. The associations were stronger among men compared to women, particularly for rectal cancer. This could be due to different mechanisms, the authors hypothesize, more research is needed.
Here for the US population, AICR estimates that half of colorectal cancers can be prevented if everyone were to stay lean, be active, eat less than 18 ounces of red meat a week and follow other AICR Recommendations.
Here’s more on the research linking diet, weight, and physical activity to colorectal cancer prevention.