24 April 2009
Moderate changes to 5 key lifestyle factors could have more impact on reducing deaths from colorectal (bowel) cancer than screening, researchers say (European Journal of Cancer Prevention 2009, in press).
Researchers from the United Kingdom say small shifts in diet and exercise habits population-wide could prevent nearly a third of the colorectal cancers in men and 18 per cent in women.
The UK faecal occult blood screening programme is expected to prevent about 15 per cent of these cancers.
The 5 keys to better bowel health include: reduced consumption of red meat and processed meat; increased fruit and vegetable intake; reduced alcohol consumption; increased exercise; and better weight control, the researchers said.
Taking account of the ageing population, reduced colorectal cancer incidence could be achieved by reducing red meat consumption to less than 90 g per day; increasing fruit and vegetable intake to 400 g per day; undertaking 30 minutes of brisk exercise 5 days a week; reducing alcohol to 3 units per day for men and 2 units per day for women; and halting the obesity trend.
Over the next 10 years, the UK population needed to return to the weight profile of the late 1980s, the researchers warned.
The interventions would also save deaths from other cancers, and from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, they said.
Last Reviewed: 24 April 2009