Alcohol, smoking key causes for bowel cancer: study

Lifestyle risk factors such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are major risk factors for bowel cancer, a new global study said on Tuesday.

The study was released Tuesday by Australian researchers, who reviewed more than 100 published studies that had reported on the link between major and modifiable risk factors for colorectal cancer including alcohol, smoking, diabetes, physical activity and various dietary components.

Approximately 1 million new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed worldwide each year, and more than half a million people die from this type of cancer, according to the background information in the study.

Researchers have showed that people who consume the largest quantities of alcohol (equivalent to or more than seven drinks per week) have 60 percent greater risk of developing the cancer, compared with non-drinkers.

Smoking, obesity and diabetes were also associated with a 20 percent greater risk of developing bowel cancer — the same risk linked with consuming high intakes of red and processed meat.

“Most people probably know that being overweight and having poor dietary habits are risk factors for the bowel cancer, but more people are probably unaware that other lifestyle risk factors such as alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and diabetes are also important culprits,” said lead researcher Rachel Huxley at The George Institute.

“These findings strongly suggest that a large proportion of colorectal cancer cases could potentially be avoided by making relatively modest lifestyle adjustments such as drinking less, quitting smoking, eating healthily and being a little more active,” said Huxley.

“Such changes would also have huge benefits in terms of reducing an individuals’ risk of developing other major forms of illness including cardiovascular disease,” he added.

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