Colorectal cancer: treatment and prevention

A new evidence-based article on treatment and prevention of colorectal cancer (CRC) has been published today in the latest issue of Dietetics Today for health professionals to consider the signs and risk factors of CRC. 

CRC, also known as bowel cancer, is the umbrella term for cancers of the large intestine and rectum. CRC is the third most common cancer in the UK with a prevalence of 30.8 per 100,000 people. In this article, Meat Advisory Panel members, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon Roger Leicester and Freelance Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton, outline the current evidence for the treatment and prevention of the disease. 

Roger Leicester said: “Eating red meat in moderation can play an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. While red meat is continually linked to bowel cancer there are many different factors that are associated with the disease and the rise in cases. These include age, the biggest risk factor for bowel cancer, with risk increasing two- to six-fold per decade of age(1). This is why Western countries, with their ageing populations, are seeing an increase in the prevalence of bowel cancer. The second most important risk factor is genetic susceptibility."

Roger Leicester’s tips to reduce bowel cancer risk
1.    Maintain a healthy body weight
2.    Reduce the energy density of the diet by lowering fat intakes and increasing fibre/starch carbohydrates
3.    Exercise regularly
4.    Don't overcook or burn fish/poultry/meat 
5.    Reduce intakes of trans fatty acids
6.    Increase fish consumption, particularly species rich in omega-3s
7.    Wash vegetables and fruit to remove any pesticide residue
8.    Increase soluble fibre from beans, pulses, figs, pineapple, Brassica vegetables and prunes
9.    Consume lean red meat within government recommended limits (500g cooked per week) (N.B. the  average total meat consumption is in line with the government recommended limits)
10.    Eat high-fat processed meats and preserved meats in moderation. 

Dietetics Today is the monthly magazine for members of the British Dietetics Association. For more information please visit here

For red meat factsheets providing up-to-date and evidence-based information on the relationship between red meat and health and nutrition please click here


Brenner H et al (2010). Sex, age, and birth cohort effects in colorectal neoplasms: a cohort analysis. Ann Intern Med 152, 697-703.