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Healthy Living Can Prevent Nearly 25% of Colorectal Cancers
Date:10/27/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- As many as 23 percent of colorectal cancers could be prevented if people followed five simple healthy lifestyle recommendations, Danish researchers say.

The recommendations -- which would improve overall health as well -- include exercise, a good diet, moderate drinking, no smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, the researchers say.

"Even a modest difference in your lifestyle habits may have a substantial impact on your colorectal cancer risk," said lead researcher Dr. Anne Tjonneland of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen.

Specifically, the recommendations are:

  • At least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
  • No more than seven drinks a week for women and 14 for men.
  • Not smoking.
  • Eating a healthful diet, defined as one high in fiber, with more than six servings (3 cups) a day of fruits and vegetables, and low in red meat and processed meat (no more than just over a pound a week), with less than 30 percent of total calories derived from fat.
  • A waist size no more than 34.6 inches for women and 40.1 inches for men.

The report is published online in the Oct. 27 edition of the BMJ.

For the study, Tjonneland and colleagues examined data on 55,487 men and women aged 50 to 64, who had not been diagnosed with cancer.

All those in the study completed a lifestyle questionnaire, which asked about social factors, health status, reproductive factors and lifestyle habits. They also completed a food frequency questionnaire that detailed what they ate over 12 months.

During 10 years of follow-up, 678 people developed colorectal cancer.

If all the participants (except for the healthiest men and women) had adopted just one additional lifestyle recommendation, 13% of the colorectal cancer cases could have been avoided,
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