Certain healthy lifestyle factors are known to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, but new research shows that the preventive effects increase when healthy behaviors are combined.
Researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrueck in Nuthetal analyzed data on more than 347,000 men and women and found that 22 percent of men and 11 percent of women who developed colorectal cancer could have prevented the disease by adopting six lifestyle behaviors.
The behaviors included:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not having excess belly fat
- Exercising regularly
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Following a high-fiber, low-fat diet
While any one of these healthy behaviors can reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, the study results showed that the risk of cancer continued to decrease with the addition of each behavior.
Study participants provided information about their lifestyles and were given one point for each healthy behavior practiced. Participants received a score between zero and five to represent their total number of healthy behaviors followed. Researchers found that participants with a score of two, three, four or five lowered their risk of colorectal cancer by 13 percent, 21 percent, 34 percent and 37 percent respectively (Source: Medical News Today).
Approximately one-third of cancers are considered preventable, and colorectal cancer is among them. However, it still remains the second most common cancer in men and third most common cancer in women worldwide. The study results underscore the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to reduce the overall risk of developing colorectal cancer.
"These data provide additional incentive to individuals, medical professionals and public health authorities to invest in healthy lifestyle initiatives," lead study author Dr. Krasimira Aleksandrova, explains. "Each person can contribute a lot to avoid cancer, the more healthy lifestyle changes, the better."