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The most comprehensive and authoritative report on colorectal cancer risk ever published has concluded that Americans can lower their risk of colorectal cancer by eating plenty of foods containing fiber, choosing small amounts of red meat, avoiding processed meat, staying a healthy weight, and being physically active.
Based on the findings, AICR estimates that Americans can prevent approximately 64,000 cases of colorectal cancer every year by following healthy lifestyle recommendations.
Just released as part of WCRF/AICR's groundbreaking Continuous Update Project, this report* updates the findings of WCRF/AICR's 2007 expert report on links between colorectal cancer risk and diet, physical activity and weight.
Foods Containing Fiber – Now Convincing: the evidence showing that foods containing dietary fiber reduce colorectal cancer risk has become stronger. The expert panel upgraded the conclusion that foods containing fiber are protective from "probable" to "convincing."
Red and Processed Meat Increase Risk: Remains Convincing: For red and processed meat, the CUP Expert Panel concluded that there is convincing evidence that both red and processed meat increase colorectal cancer risk. Ounce for ounce, the link was much stronger for processed meat than for red meat.
Activity Protective: Remains Convincing: The report found that higher overall levels of physical activity convincingly linked to decreasing the risk of colon cancer; no conclusion was drawn for rectal cancer.
Overweight and Obesity Increase Risk: Still Convincing: The experts concluded that studies published since 2007 added to and confirmed the evidence that excess body fat convincingly increases the risk of colorectal cancer.
Abdominal Fat and Alcohol Increase Risk Also Confirmed: carrying excess fat – especially around the waist – is a convincing cause of colon cancer and alcohol consumption increases colon cancer risk in men and probably increases risk in women.
Based on the new CUP colorectal cancer report, there are three general steps Americans can take to prevent colorectal cancer: Eat smart, move more, and stay lean.
"This report shows that colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers," said Elisa Bandera, MD, PhD, who served on the World Cancer Research Fund/ American Institute for Cancer Research's Continuous Update Project (CUP) Expert Panel that authored the report. "AICR has estimated that about 45 percent of colorectal cancer cases could be prevented if we all ate more fiber-rich plant foods and less meat, drank less alcohol, moved more and stayed lean. That's over 64,000 cases in the US every year."
*The systematic review of the evidence was carried out by WCRF/AICR-funded scientists at Imperial College London. The scientists added 263 new papers on colorectal cancer to the 749 that were analyzed as part of the 2007 report. An independent CUP Expert Panel then analyzed the totality of evidence and made new judgments.