Modest Cancer Risk Reduction in Healthy Living

Article

An Albert Einstein College of Medicine observational study showed following American Cancer Society (ACS) eating and exercise guidelines was associated with a"modest but significant" reduced risk of developing certain cancers. That was particularly true for colorectal cancer and, in women, endometrial cancer. The study authors believe theirs is the largest study of its kind.

An Albert Einstein College of Medicine observational study showed following American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines was associated with a reduced risk of developing certain cancers. That was particularly true for colorectal cancer and, in women, endometrial cancer.

Reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Geoffrey Kabat, PhD, and colleagues looked at data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study of the self-reported health habits of 476,396 members of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The subjects filled out questionnaires in 1995-1996. They were followed for a median of 10.5 years for cancer incidence, 12.6 years for cancer deaths, and 13.6 years for deaths from any cause.

The researchers scored participants on whether they said they followed ACS guidelines such as maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, limiting alcohol intact, and not smoking. The participants were also scored on what they ate, with those who ate fruits and vegetables and little red meat getting better scores than those who did not.

They found that based on the questionnaire responses, men who adhered most closely to the guidelines had a reduced overall risk of developing cancer of 10 percent compared to men with the lowest adherence. For women, the corresponding reduction in overall cancer risk was 19 percent. Men with the highest adherence had a reduced risk of dying from cancer of 25 percent; for women, the reduction was 24 percent. Risk for cancers at various sites varied widely.

Among the more dramatic risk reductions was a 65% lower incidence of gallbladder cancer in the most adherent subjects.

“The present study indicates that, after accounting for smoking, adherence to guidelines relating to body weight, physical activity, alcohol, and diet was associated with a modest reduction in cancer incidence overall but with significant reductions in a large number of cancer sites,” the authors concluded.

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