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Alcohol is Important Risk Factor for Bowel Cancer
Researchers have found that people who consume more than 7 drinks per week have a 60 percent greater risk of developing bowel cancer, compared with non-drinkers. The study also found that smoking, obesity, and diabetes produce a 20 percent greater risk of developing the cancer—the same risk associated with eating high quantities of red and processed meat.
According to lead researcher Rachel Huxley, an associate professor at the Georgia Institute, the most surprising finding of the study was “the strong and largely unknown association between high intakes of alcoholic beverages with risk of colorectal cancer.” She continued, “Most people probably know that being overweight and having poor dietary habits are risk factors for the disease, but most are probably unaware that other lifestyle risk factors such as alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and diabetes are also important culprits.”
Approximately one million new cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed worldwide each year, and more than half a million people die from it. It is the most commonly occurring cancer in Australia, with more than 12,000 new cases each year. Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council recommend that individuals shouldn’t drink more than two standard drinks per day.
The researchers also found that physical activity lowers the risk of the disease and, surprisingly, that there was little evidence to indicate that high intakes of fruit and vegetables protect against bowel cancer.
"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."