Colon cancer, like many other forms of cancer, can be a result of how you live your life. If you practice certain lifestyle traits, you can lower your risk of getting the disease, while others can heavily increase the risk.
Colon cancer is rather scary, because it can sneak up on you. It’s easy to overlook, and if you’re not getting a regular colonoscopy, it can be very difficult to detect early. For example, the National Cancer Institute estimates there will be about 136,830 cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed this year; 50,310 are likely to result in death.
A new study published in the journal BMC Medicine indicates that embracing a handful of healthy lifestyle traits can help lower the risk of colon cancer. Researchers found a clear association between five lifestyle factors and a reduced risk of colon cancer. And although it’s not true to say these things will absolutely prevent colon cancer, there’s a good chance they can lower the risk.
They looked at data compiled over 12 years that tracked 347,000 Europeans. Over that period, 3,760 cases of colon cancer were diagnosed among participants. What the team noticed was that people who lived a certain way or did/didn’t do certain things appeared to have a much lower rate of getting the disease.
The lifestyle factors were:
- Maintaining a healthy weight and a low amount of belly fat
- Getting regular physical activity
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol
- Eating a well-balanced diet
A well-balanced diet was classified as containing lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fiber, and very little processed meats.
Basically, these are the same lifestyle attributes that are associated with preventing a number of conditions, which is particularly why they are called “healthy.” If you eat right, get exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and don’t put toxic chemicals into your body via processed foods, cigarettes, and alcohol, you can prevent a whole slew of diseases. It all seems to make sense, right?
But nobody is perfect.
It’s hard to get exercise every day, eat flawlessly, or turn down a drink from time to time. And who couldn’t afford to lose a few extra pounds, right? But researchers noticed that you don’t have to have all of the factors going for you in order to reduce the risk. Each one seems to affect risk independently, so even if you do two of them, you’re still at a lower risk than if you follow none.
For example, they found people who only had two of the healthy lifestyle factors were 13% less likely to develop colon cancer than people who did one or none. Risk was reduced by 37% for those who did all five.
The more you do for your health and the more preventative measures you include in your lifestyle, the lower your risk is for colon cancer and other diseases. But even if you live your life by the book in terms of a healthy lifestyle, there is still no guarantee you’re in the clear. There are so many factors at work regarding disease, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can to lower the risk.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Colon and Rectal Cancer,” National Cancer Institute web site, 2014; http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/colon-and-rectal, last accessed October 17, 2014.
Aleksandrova, K., et al., “Combined Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Colorectal Cancer: A Large European Cohort Study,” BMC Medicine web site, October 10, 2014; http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/12/168.