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Adopting Several Healthy Behaviors Cuts Bowel Cancer Risk

First Posted: Oct 10, 2014 05:57 AM EDT

Adopting several healthy behaviors is linked with a reduced risk of developing bowel cancer, states a new study.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer or colon cancer, is diagnosed in more than 130,000 people each year in the United States. This type of cancer forms in the tissues of the colon, i.e. the longest part of the large intestine. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S men and women and is the second leading type of deadly cancer.

In the latest study, researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke found that adhering to a combination of five key healthy behavior is tied to a lower risk of developing colon cancer.

On quantifying the impact of several healthy lifestyle behaviors combined together, on the risk of developing the cancer, the researchers noticed the impact to be stronger in men than in women.

Lead author Krasimira Aleksandrova said: "These data provide additional incentive to individuals, medical professionals and public health authorities to invest in healthy lifestyle initiatives. Each person can contribute a lot to avoid cancer; healthier the lifestyle changes are, the better."

Studies conducted earlier have revealed the association between the frequency rates of cancer and western lifestyle. And most of the research concentrated on the isolated lifestyle behavior like consumption of red meat.

In this latest study, the researchers analyzed the data of 347,237 men and women from 10 various countries in the European prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort study using a lifestyle index. The subjects were followed for a 12-year period during which 3,759 cases of bowel cancer were recorded.

The healthy lifestyle index included lifestyle factors like low abdominal fat, healthy weight, regular physical exercise, no smoking, limited intake of alcohol and diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, yogurt, nuts and seeds and foods rich in fiber, and low amount of red and processed meat.

For each five behavior, the subjects were given a point for having a healthy factor and zero for lack of healthy factors. They later added these points to produce a cumulative score of each subject.

More the number of healthy lifestyle factors they adopted, lower was their risk of developing bowel cancer.

Aleksandrova, further said: "Our data confirmed that with an increasing number of healthy lifestyle behaviors the risk that a person will have of developing bowel cancer decreases. Estimates based on our study populations suggest that up to 22 percent of the cases in men and 11 percent of the cases in women would have been prevented if all five of the healthy lifestyle behaviors had been followed. Our results particularly demonstrate the potential for prevention in men who are at a higher risk of bowel cancer than women."

The finding is available in journal BMC Medicine.

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