As we complete April, colon cancer awareness month, the topic of strategies to improve our population risk profile and reduce the cancer burden in our families, our workplaces, our communities and our state, I am reminded of many times we have written and talked on this topic. We have written on physical activity and colon cancer prevention from many angles (1-6) and used titles such as “walk away from colon cancer” or at the Eat and Run conference in Sydney Australia, 2002, we concluded that what we don’t know is how best to conduct community based interventions to reduce weight gain through increased physical activity.
It remains clear that higher levels of exercise protects against colon cancer, most likely through insulin pathways (7, 8). While further research may refine this understanding and identify potential points for intervention – keeping active through adolescent and adult years reduces risk of many chronic conditions including heart disease and diabetes. The pay-off for wellness is clear.
Writing in the American Journal of Public Health in 2001, I emphasized the need for action to implement our understanding of sun exposure as a cause of the epidemic of melanoma we are currently experiencing in the US. The messages for cancer prevention from this time over a decade ago, apply just the same today as we work to prevent colon and other major cancers. “It is time to implement existing cancer prevention strategies through providers, regulatory changes, and programs focused on individuals: programs to encourage smoking cessation and counter trends in youth smoking initiation as well as programs that encourage people to eat a healthy diet, avoid weight gain, be physically active, drink in moderation if at all, practice safe sex, and avoid sunburns and excessive sun exposure”(9). We can act on our understanding of the power of prevention and bring healthier life to our country reducing health expenditures in the future as an added benefit.
For tips and strategies on how to adopt a healthier lifestyle for you, your family, and your community go to:Your Disease Risk
See the Community Action button for strategies to promote wellness and prevent cancer in your community.
1. G. Colditz, C. Cannuscio, A. Frazier, Physical activity and colon cancer. Cancer Causes Control 8, (1997).
2. M. E. Martinez, E. Giovannucci, D. Spiegelman, D. J. Hunter, W. C. Willett, G. A. Colditz, Leisure-time physical activity, body size, and colon cancer in women. Nurses' Health Study Research Group. J Natl Cancer Inst 89, 948 (1997).
3. K. Y. Wolin, Y. Yan, G. A. Colditz, Physical activity and risk of colon adenoma: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Cancer 104, 882 (2011); published online EpubMar 1 (10.1038/sj.bjc.6606045).
4. K. Y. Wolin, Y. Yan, G. A. Colditz, I. M. Lee, Physical activity and colon cancer prevention: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Cancer 100, 611 (2009); published online EpubFeb 24 (10.1038/sj.bjc.6604917).
5. K. Y. Wolin, K. Carson, G. A. Colditz, Obesity and cancer. Oncologist 15, 556 (2010)10.1634/theoncologist.2009-0285).
6. E. Giovannucci, A. Ascherio, E. B. Rimm, G. A. Colditz, M. J. Stampfer, W. C. Willett, Physical activity, obesity, and risk for colon cancer and adenoma in men. Ann Intern Med 122, 327 (1995).
7. E. Giovannucci, Metabolic syndrome, hyperinsulinemia, and colon cancer: a review. Am J Clin Nutr 86, s836 (2007); published online EpubSep (
9. G. Colditz, Cancer culture: epidemics, human behavior, and the dubious search for new risk factors. Am J Public Health 91, 357 (2001).