Study: Lifestyle Changes Could Prevent More Deaths from Colorectal Cancer Than Screening

Lifestyle Changes Could Prevent More Deaths from Colorectal Cancer Than Screening, according to a study published online April 4 in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.  Researchers from the United Kingdom predict that “realistic” lifestyle modifications involving diet and exercise would lead to a 26% reduction in the number of cases of colorectal cancer in the British population. This would be expected to produce at least an equivalent decrease in the number of deaths, they add, and “this is considerably greater than what is likely to be achieved by the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.” They previously estimated that this project, which involves 2 yearly screenings with fecal occult blood testing, would reduce colorectal cancer mortality in those screened by 13% to 15% over the next 20 years (J Med Screen. 2008:15:163-174).

The lifestyle modifications involved:

  • Reducing consumption of red and processed meat to less than 90 g/day
  • Increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables to at least 5 portions per day
  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day on 5 or more days a week, at least at “moderate intensity” (similar to brisk walking)
  • Restricting alcohol consumption to 3 units a day for men and 2 units a day for women (where 1 unit is equivalent to half a pint of beer; a single measure of spirits; 1 glass of wine; or a small glass of sherry, port, or something similar)
An added bonus from the lifestyle-modification approach is that it would also prevent deaths from other causes, including cancers of the breast and upper gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes, the researchers add.

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