Alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are key causes of bowel cancer, finds a new study.
Lead researcher Rachel Huxley, an associate professor at The George Institute, says that people who consume the largest quantities of alcohol, more than 7 drinks per week-have 60 per cent greater risk of developing the cancer than non-drinkers.
The researcher further said that smoking, obesity and diabetes were also associated with a 20 per cent greater risk of developing bowel cancer, the same risk linked with consuming high intakes of red and processed meat.
Telling about the most startling finding of the study, Huxley said: "The strong, and largely, unknown association between high intakes of alcoholic beverages with risk of colorectal cancer. 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."
As regards positive findings of the study, the research team have observed that physical activity lowers an individual's risk of the disease.
However, there was little evidence to indicate that high intakes of fruit and vegetables were protective against bowel cancer, said the researchers.
"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. Such changes would also have huge benefits in terms of reducing an individuals' risk of developing other major forms of illness including cardiovascular disease," said Huxley.
For their study, the researchers reviewed over 100 published studies that had reported on the association between major and modifiable risk factors for colorectal cancer, including alcohol, smoking, diabetes, physical activity and various dietary components.