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How lifestyle habits affect colorectal cancer risk
Your own lifestyle has a significant impact on the risk of developing colon cancer. A recently published study by the German Cancer Research Center shows which measures everyone can take to reduce their personal risk - completely independently of genetic influences. Even people who are inherently at risk can reduce the likelihood of getting sick with a suitable lifestyle.
Colon cancer is one of the most common tumor diseases in Germany. It is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common in women. In their study, researchers from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) identified five rules for a healthier lifestyle. By implementing these rules, everyone can demonstrably minimize their risk of colon cancer. The study results were recently published in the specialist journal "Gastroenterology".
The Five Rule Against Colon Cancer
"Everyone can lower their risk of colorectal cancer by paying attention to a healthy lifestyle", DKFZ expert Michael Hoffmeister sums up the study results in a press release. Five lifestyle factors that are less likely to cause colon cancer have emerged from the research:
- Do not smoke,
- low alcohol consumption,
- healthy eating,
- sufficient physical activity,
- normal body weight.
Everyone can contribute to minimizing risk
The study is based on data from more than 4,000 colon cancer patients and 3,000 healthy controls. The study placed special emphasis on factors that everyone can influence themselves, i.e. smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, exercise and body weight. "The more of the healthy lifestyle factors the study participants combined, the lower their risk of developing colon cancer," explains Hoffmeister.
Even small successes can make the difference
If you cannot or do not want to implement all of these factors, you can already benefit if you only consider some of these lifestyle factors. The study showed that participants who did not smoke, who had a healthy diet, and who were physically active had a reduced risk of colon cancer compared to those who did not follow any of the five lifestyles. "But those who took all five lifestyle factors into account had the lowest risk of colon cancer," said the cancer experts.
All factors had roughly the same effect
Overall, a healthy lifestyle proved to be an equivalent instrument against colorectal cancer as colorectal cancer prevention. "It did not matter whether it was no smoking, healthy eating or physical activity that was taken to heart," emphasized the first author of the Prudence Carr study. Each variant is associated with a reduced risk of illness.
What role does genetics play?
It's not just lifestyle alone that influences whether you get colon cancer or not. As the DKFZ researchers report, more than 50 gene variants that slightly increase the risk of colon cancer have been discovered in recent years. "There are people who have a slightly higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than others because of their genetic profile," Carr explains. But the same applies to these people: A healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of colon cancer.
This recommendation applies to all people
"The recommendation to pay attention to a healthy lifestyle applies to everyone, regardless of their genetic colorectal cancer risk," says Hoffmeister. As an additional motivation, the expert points out that the same factors also reduce the risk of heart diseases and many other diseases.
Colon cancer is still a big problem
Despite all scientific advances, colon cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide. According to calculations and estimates based on the Robert Koch Institute's cancer registry data, 33,000 men and 26,000 women will develop colorectal cancer in Germany in 2018. With the five factors for a healthy lifestyle, everyone can help not to share this fate. (vb)