"For each additional lifestyle recommendation the participants followed, a reduction of 13 percent [in colorectal cancer] was shown," Tjonneland said.
And if all those in the study had followed all five lifestyle recommendations, then there would have been 23 percent fewer colorectal cancer cases, Tjonneland's group found.
"The hope is that this is an understandable message leading to an impact in the prevention of colorectal cancer," she said.
Marji McCullough, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, said that "the study shows the importance of following cancer prevention guidelines for lifestyle."
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer death in men and women, she said.
"The majority of these cancers and deaths can be prevented by applying existing knowledge about cancer prevention, such as lifestyle and by increasing the use of established screening tests," McCullough said. "Colorectal cancer is a highly preventable cancer."
Dr. Floriano Marchetti, an assistant professor of clinical surgery in the division of colon and rectal surgery at the University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, added that "this study confirms on a large scale what the impression of many other small studies have only hinted at."
"If you look at these lifestyle recommendations, they are not really horrible," he said. "This is not like people are asked to be on a strictly vegetarian diet or become triathletes."
And the benefit is linear, Marchetti pointed out. "You modify something and you already have a return with minimal investment. If you modify more, you have a better return," he said.
In another study in the same issue, Australian researchers found that people without a high school diploma who received information about colon cancer screening through a decision
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