There are several recognized ways that you can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, but is taking aspirin one of them? This week the US Preventive Services Task Force released their recommendations on aspirin, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer – a final take on their draft recommendations released last year.
After a review of the research, the task force recommends that 50 to 59 year olds who have a 10 percent or greater 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease and have no risk for bleeding take a low-dose of aspirin. For these individuals, they conclude, taking aspirin five to ten years can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. Here, they graded the evidence a B, meaning that there is high to moderate certainty of a net benefit.
If you are between ages 60 to 69, taking aspirin should be an individual decision depending on preferences and discussion with a health care professional, they write.
Last year we wrote about their draft recommendations, noting that AICR’s focus is on how diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight links to cancer risk, so we have no position on aspirin use and risk.Whatever your decision on aspirin, you should also know there is clear evidence that several healthy habits and a healthy weight link to lower risk. Many of these steps also reduce risk for heart disease.
Eating plenty of foods with fiber, limiting red meat and avoiding processed meats, exercising and staying a healthy weight all link to lower risk. AICR estimate that these lifestyle factors could prevent one of every two colorectal cancer cases every year.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, yet it remains the third most common cancer among US men and women.
The good news is that rates have declined 30 percent among people 50 years of age and older, however incidence and mortality among individuals under 50 are on the rise and expected to climb. Among 20-34 year olds, rates of colorectal cancer have increased 51% since 1994 and in the period from 2010-2030, colorectal cancer in this age group is expected to increase by 90 percent.
At the Early Age Colorectal Cancer Onset Summit last week, I was one of the speakers talking about the concerning increase in this cancer among adults in their 20s through 40s.
Among 20-34 year olds, rates of colorectal cancer have increased 51% since 1994 – and in the period from 2010-2030, colorectal cancer in this age group is expected to increase by 90%.
Alarmingly, cancers in the under 50 population are diagnosed at later stages (most often due to delays in diagnosis) and appear to be more aggressive tumor types, both of which have implications for prognosis and survival.
What’s unknown is the cause of young onset colorectal cancer.
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans are out and they take a step in the right direction to help you make choices to lower your risk for cancer. Two key pieces of advice–eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of plant foods and keep sugary foods and drinks to a minimum. And that could mean fewer cases of cancer associated with poor diet and obesity.
You can put these into practice with our New American Plate model – filling at least 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruit, and 1/3 or less with fish, poultry, meat and dairy.
The guidelines also recommend keeping your added sugar to 10 percent or less of your total calories. As we wrote earlier about the nutrition label and sugar, if you follow a 2000 calorie diet, you could have about one cup of fruit yogurt and one small dark chocolate bar. That’s because foods with high amounts of added sugar contribute to overweight and obesity, a cause of 10 cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and kidney.
Unfortunately, the Dietary Guidelines does not reflect the evidence-based recommendation from the independent expert committee to advise Americans to limit red and processed meat. It is disappointing that industry lobbying efforts succeeded in preventing the clear and simple message that these increase risk for colorectal cancer. AICR research has shown that red and processed meats are convincingly linked to colorectal cancer, and the World Health Organization has also recently established that link. Here’s our recommendation: