Daily physical activity—including household chores and walking to work—may help lower colorectal cancer risk, according to a new study. Strong evidence also suggests that consumption of whole grains, other foods with dietary fiber, dairy products, and calcium supplements may also lower risk. On the flipside, the researchers found that processed meat, excess alcohol and red meat consumption, and unhealthy body weight may raise colorectal cancer risk.
The report was released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund on September 6, 2017.
Lead author Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement, “The findings from this comprehensive report are robust and clear: Diet and lifestyle have a major role in colorectal cancer.”
As part of the Continuous Update Project (CUP) – an ongoing programme to analyse global research on how diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight affect cancer risk and survival – the researchers analysed worldwide research to produce the report on colorectal cancer.
Published in September 2017, the report is the most rigorous, systematic, global analysis of the scientific research currently available on diet, weight, physical activity and colorectal cancer, and which of these factors increase or decrease the risk of developing the disease.
For the report, the global scientific research on diet, nutrition, physical activity and colorectal cancer was gathered and analysed by a research team at Imperial College London, and then independently assessed by a panel of leading international scientists.
The report reviewed evidence from 99 studies from around the world. The studies examined more than 29 million adults and over 247,000 cases of colorectal cancer.
There is strong evidence that:
- being physically active decreases the risk of colon cancer
- consuming wholegrains decreases the risk of colorectal cancer
- consuming foods containing dietary fibre decreases the risk of colorectal cancer
- consuming dairy products decreases the risk of colorectal cancer
- taking calcium supplements decreases the risk of colorectal cancer
- consuming red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer
- consuming processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer
- consuming approximately two or more alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer
- being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer
- being tall increases the risk of colorectal cancer