Individuals who adhere to five healthy lifestyle factors have a lower risk for developing colorectal cancer, regardless of their genetic risk, according to research published in Gastroenterology.
Prudence R. Carr, a postdoctoral researcher at the division of clinical epidemiology and aging research at the German Cancer Research Center, and colleagues wrote that with a higher prevalence of CRC in the western world, they wanted to develop a lifestyle scoring system that would help predict risk for the disease.
“A large body of evidence has established that many ‘western’ lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, physical inactivity, and body fatness are risk factors for CRC,” they wrote. “However, since many of these lifestyle behaviors often coexist, investigating the combined impact of these lifestyle factors on CRC risk is highly relevant.”
Carr and colleagues analyzed data from a population-based, case-control study in Germany to explore the associations between those five lifestyle factors and CRC. They also created a genetic risk score to stratify the healthy lifestyle score and risk for CRC by genetic risk.
The study included 4,092 patients with CRC and a control group of 3,032 individuals without CRC.
Investigators found that 45% of CRC cases could be attributed to non-adherence to all five healthy lifestyle factors (95% CI, 34%-53%).
Compared with patients with 0 or 1 health lifestyle factors, patients with 2 (OR = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.67–1.06), 3 (OR = 0.62; 95% CI, 0.5–0.77), 4 (OR = 0.53; 95% CI, 0.42–
0.66) or 5 (OR = 0.33; 95% CI, 0.26–0.43) all had increasingly lower risk for CRC (P for trend < .0001).
Researchers also found no differences among the groups stratified for genetic risk.
Carr and colleagues wrote that their findings highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle for the prevention of CRC and show just how crucial primary prevention might be.
“It is possible that due to the simplicity of our healthy lifestyle score, the true effect of the observed associations is underestimated,” they wrote. “Although it is unrealistic that a population will fully adhere to all five healthy lifestyle recommendations, these findings suggest that primary prevention of CRC should remain a priority and future work should focus on new possibilities to encourage individuals to implement healthy lifestyle behaviors.” – by Alex Young
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.