Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is becoming an all to common form of cancer both in the United States and throughout the world.According to World Health Organization (WHO) numbers, this form of cancer accounts for 655,000 deaths worldwide each year – the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world.
A report issued by UK based World Center Research Fund last year suggested a link between red meat and cancer, and that eating processed meats like bacon or sausage every day ups your risk of bowel cancer by 63%.
Processed meat was one of the bad guys of the report, but others included diet and lifestyle choices (smoking and alcohol consumption to name a few) that could increase the risk of this type of cancer. The report also included evidence that tied extra weight to six different types of cancer.
Titled Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer, publicity over the contents generated a firestorm of controversy as some blasted the effort as “scare tactics”.
Experts defend the work; insisting that while factors like heredity and environment can’t be changed… some risk factors are within our power to control.
And so it seems, many of us may be doing just that.
In a recent online survey of 2,124 respondents, nearly a quarter claimed to have made changes, like eating more fruits and veggies, based on the media coverage of the report.
One in ten has tried to cut down on processed meats like bacon, and of those over 55 years old, 37% reported making changes that included eliminating processed meats from the diet.
Almost 18% of survey respondents were actively watching their weight based on concerns over cancer.
Other results of the survey found that two in five people were trying to be more active – working toward getting 30 minutes of exercise every day.
The good news, according to Richard Evans, head of communications for the World Cancer Research Fund, “This survey shows that if people are told how they can reduce their risk of cancer then many of them will make changes.”
Experts continue to believe that a diet high in animal fat and protein, and also low in fiber, can up the risk of developing cancer of the bowel.
Those who drink heavily (more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day for men; one drink a day for women) are likely also at increased risk of bowel cancer. Almost 9% of those surveyed were working to cut down on alcohol based on these types of health messages.
Of course smoking or chewing tobacco also increases your bowel cancer risk.
The report recommendations for both physical activity and weight management that can help reduce your risk (not just to consider the link between red meat and cencer). You need to keep your weight under control. This isn’t to say underweight, but aim for a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 25 to be considered in the healthy weight range.
As BMI moves over the 25 mark, your risk begins to increase. Also, be sure that you lead an active lifestyle, as there is strong, reliable evidence that this too can offer protective benefits to the body.