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Major New Report: How Americans Can Lower Risk for Colorectal Cancer

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Continous Update Cvr 2011The 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.

What does the report say? Is there anything new?

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.

How Can I Put this into Practice?

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.

  1. Practice Prevention with a Healthy Plate
    • Fill your plate with foods that contain fiber – whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. Minimally processed plant foods maintain their natural fiber.
    • Aim to eat less than 18 oz. of cooked red meat weekly. (Example: a typical fast food hamburger (Jr. or single) is about 2 oz cooked meat.) Save processed meat for a few special occasions.
    • If you drink alcohol, women should consume no more than 1 standard drink daily, men no more than 2.
  2. Step It Up with Physical Activity
    • Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking or other moderate activity daily, then step it up to 60 minutes.
    • Find ways to incorporate movement into your day – break up screen time (computer, TV) with stretch breaks, hand weights workout or jogging in place.
  3. Adopt Habits to Support Healthy Weight
    • Focus first on not gaining weight. AICR has tips and ideas for moving toward a healthier weight.
    • Physical activity is crucial to getting to – and staying – a healthy weight. Begin by doing some form of physical activity every day, then work up to the 60 minutes daily total.

Small Steps, Big Impact

"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.


 


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