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Lifestyle Changes Key to Cutting Colorectal Cancer in UK

Effects of diet, exercise and less alcohol would be greater than better screening and treatment

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Improved diet, exercise and reduced alcohol consumption could substantially reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer in the United Kingdom by 2024, according to a report released online Feb. 20 in advance of publication in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.

Donald Maxwell Parkin, M.D., of Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues projected colorectal cancer incidence rates for the time period between 1975 and 2004 in the United Kingdom to 2024 using Nordpred package modeling to allow for such factors as cancer screening and exposure to risk factors.

The researchers predict that colorectal cancer incidence in the United Kingdom should decline by about 9 percent by 2024 given current trends. Further declines could be achieved by diet and lifestyle modifications, including less red meat, more fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, reduced alcohol consumption, and weight control. If these changes were widely adopted, the researchers estimate that 31.5 percent of cancers in men and 18.4 percent in women could be prevented. If the weight profile of the U.K. population merely returned to that of 20 years ago, 28 percent of colorectal cancers in men and 14.7 percent in women could be prevented, the report indicates.

"These predictions suggest that realistic lifestyle modifications can result in a substantial reduction in cases of this major cancer. The benefit in terms of avoided deaths is probably greater than that which can be achieved through implementation of the national screening program, and improvements in treatment," the authors write.

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