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NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study: Impact of Diet and Lifestyle Factors on Cancer Incidence: Colorectal Cancer

Cancer Sites | Colorectal

For a copy of these publications and others related to the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, visit the National Cancer Institute.

Body Mass and Colorectal Cancer Risk in the NIH-AARP Cohort
Excess body weight in both men and women is associated with increased risk of colon cancer, according to data from the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. The study examined the relation between body mass index (BMI) and colorectal cancer incidence in a prospective cohort of 307,708 men and 209,436 women ages 50-71. Over 3,300 colorectal cancer cases developed during follow up. Colon cancer risk was clearly elevated for men and women who were overweight (25 BMI units or greater), but rectal cancer risk was unrelated to BMI. Even moderate BMI was related to higher risk of colon cancer, suggesting that the optimal strategy for prevention would be to maintain a weight as low as possible within the healthy range (18.5 to 25 BMI units).

Dietary fiber and whole-grain consumption in relation to colorectal cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study
Total dietary fiber intake was not associated with colorectal cancer risk, but whole-grain consumption was associated with a modest reduced risk of colorectal cancer in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. A total of 2,974 incident colorectal cancer cases were identified during 5 years of follow-up in a cohort of 291,988 men and 197,623 women ages 50-71. In analyses of fiber from different food sources, fiber specifically from whole grains was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. This inverse association with fiber from whole grains was stronger for rectal than for colon cancer.

Further information about the study or individual reports may be obtained by contacting Nancy Wood of AARP at or 202-434-2583.

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