A healthy diet and lifestyle reduces the risk of colorectal cancer in older people

The results of the PREDIMED study suggest that the most up-to-date recommendations of the international organisation World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research to maintain a healthy lifestyle reduce the risk of colorectal in older people with a high cardiovascular risk. The results of the study have been published in the "Journal of Clinical Medicine"

Colorectal cancer is a major global public health problem as it is the second most common cancer in women and the third most common in men. In 2018, there were more than 1.8 million cases of colorectal cancer and its prevalence is expected to increase due to the growth of the elderly population, as well as the adoption of Westernized habits and lifestyles. Robust scientific evidence has linked the consumption of foods such as red and processed meats and the excessive intake of alcoholic beverages to the development of colorectal cancer. However, in addition to the quality of the diet there are other lifestyle factors that could also play an important role in the development of chronic diseases such as cancer.

In order to study this issue in greater depth, researchers from the Human Nutrition Unit, in collaboration with other research groups in the PREDIMED (PREvenció amb DIeta MEDiterrània) study, investigated the association between two lifestyle rates and the risk of developing colorectal cancer in individuals with high cardiovascular risk. The first evaluated the effect of following the latest recommendations from the WCRF/AICR for preventing colorectal cancer, which are to maintain a healthy weight; engage in physical activity; follow a diet rich in whole foods, vegetables, fruits and legumes; limit the consumption of fast food and other processed foods high in fats and sugars; limit the consumption of red and processed meats; limit the intake of sugary drinks; and limit alcohol intake. The second index, proposed by researchers at Harvard University (USA) in 2018, was called the “Low Risk Lifestyle Index” and served as a tool to measure the adherence to 5 healthy lifestyle factors: not smoking; not ingesting alcohol; taking regular physical activity; maintaining an adequate body mass index and following a healthy diet.

Researchers from the Unit Nutrition Unit (URV).

After analysing data from 7216 participants aged 55 to 80 who were studied for 6 years, it was observed that individuals who had greater adherence to specific recommendations for cancer prevention (following at least 5 of the 7 recommendations considered) had a 48% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to those with lower adherence. Furthermore, of all cancer prevention recommendations, the one that showed a greater association with the risk of colorectal cancer was the consumption of sugary drinks. Thus, it was observed that those participants with a higher consumption of these beverages (>250  ml/day, equivalent to more than one glass a day) showed a 58% increased risk of colorectal cancer compared to those who did not consume them. It was also noted that a higher adherence to a healthy lifestyle, assessed by the low-risk lifestyle index (meeting more than 3 of the 5 recommendations) was associated with a 52% lower risk of developing this cancer.

The study coordinated by the Human Nutrition Unit of the URV-IISPV of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the URV was carried out by the predoctoral researcher Laura Barrubés. The research was supervised by Dr. Nancy Babio, Associate Professor at the Human Nutrition Unit of the University Rovira i Virgili and researcher attached to the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de la Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERobn), Full Professor Jordi Salas, Director of the Human Nutrition Unit of the University Rovira i Virgili, Clinical Director of Nutrition at the Internal Medicine Service of the Sant Joan University Hospital in Reus, principal investigator at the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de la Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERobn), Dr. Pablo Hernández-Alonso, active collaborator from the Nutrition Unit and postdoctoral researcher Juan de la Cierva-Formation of the Cell and Molecular Endocrinology Group of the Institute of Biomedical Research in Malaga (IBIMA-FIMABIS). All are members of the Pere Virgili Institute for Health Research (IISPV).

Reference: Barrubés, L.; Babio, N.; Hernandez-Alonso, P.; Toledo, E.; Ramirez Sabio, J.B.; Struch, R.; Ros, E.; Fitó, M.; Alonso-Gómez, A.M.; Fiol, M.; Lapetra, J.; Serra-Majem, L.; He painted, X.; Ruiz-Canela, M.; Corella, D.; Castañer, O.; Macías-González, M.; Salas-Salvadó, J. Association between the 2018 WCRF/AICR and the Low-Risk Lifestyle Scores with Colorectal Cancer Risk in the Predimed Study. J. Clin. Med. 2020,  9(4),  1215. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041215

 Link:  https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/9/4/1215

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