Genetic risk of bowel cancer 'can be balanced out by healthy living'

4 October 2016

Men with a high genetic risk of developing bowel cancer can successfully reduce that risk by living a healthy lifestyle, according to a new study.

Led by the Institute of Cancer Research in London, the research combined genetic and lifestyle risk factors to help find men at the highest risk of developing bowel cancer. It used mathematical models including 37 different factors to calculate how likely it was for a man to be diagnosed with bowel cancer over the next 25 years.

It was found that healthy living can often cancel out genetic risks. For example, men aged 50 who have a high genetic risk of developing bowel cancer have a 29 per cent risk of developing the disease within 25 years, but living healthily could reduce this to 13 per cent.

The report estimated that 610 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented over the next 25 years in the UK if 10,000 men in the highest-risk category led the healthiest lifestyles. For men in the lowest-risk group, meanwhile, 70 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented.

Professor Richard Houlston, professor of molecular and population genetics at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: "If we can identify people who are at strongly increased risk, through both genetic and lifestyle factors, we can begin to give them targeted health messages, aimed at helping them make choices that could prevent the disease."

Posted by Philip Briggs


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