Healthy lifestyle can benefit people with genetic colorectal cancer risk

A study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center shows how

Cancer Is Now the Leading Cause of Death in Several Countries.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer in certain people.

Researchers from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center have made this discovery in recently published research.

Among people who have a high genetic colorectal cancer risk, researchers estimated that keeping a healthy lifestyle was linked to an almost 40% reduction in colorectal cancer risk. People with low genetic risk for developing colorectal cancer had a 25% risk reduction. Those who have a high genetic risk and maintain an unhealthy lifestyle have more than triple the risk of being diagnosed with this type of cancer than people who have a low genetic risk and keep up a healthy lifestyle. Researchers found this by analyzing data from UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource.

The study was published in the April issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Results from this study could be useful to design personalized prevention strategies for colorectal cancer prevention,” said Dr. Wei Zheng, MD an Anne Potter Wilson Professor of Medicine and associate director for Population Sciences Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Colorectal cancer mostly occurs in people over 50, according to, a website that includes doctor-approved patient information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Still, the incidence rate for colorectal cancer has dropped by around 3.6% a year in adults 55 and older. Colorectal cancer also affects younger adults, however, and the incidence rate has grown by 2% yearly in adults under 55.

For the current study, researchers categorized lifestyle scores as unhealthy, intermediate and healthy. Factors such as physical activity, sedentary time, waist-to-hip ratio, eating processed and red meat, eating fruits and vegetables, alcohol consumption and tobacco use were considered. Genetic susceptibility to colorectal cancer was measured using polygenic risk scores.

Researchers measured polygenic risk scores using genetic variants linked to colorectal cancer risk. These were pinpointed in recent large genetic studies of over 120,000 participants. Additionally, researchers measured polygenetic risk scores for several other common cancers in previously published research.

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