Healthy habits can prevent disease

Jane Grochowski
EurekAlert

New evidence to support a range of healthy behaviors reported in the American Journal of Medicine.

Philadelphia, PA, June 4, 2012 – Five new studies provide evidence to support simple steps we can take to prevent illness and improve our overall health. In the June issue of The American Journal of Medicine, researchers report on fish consumption to reduce the risk of colon cancer; the effectiveness of hypnotherapy and acupuncture for smoking cessation; regular teeth cleaning to improve cardiovascular health; the effectiveness of primary care physicians in weight loss programs; and the use of low-dose aspirin to reduce cancer risk.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the Western world. Research linking fish consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer has been inconclusive, although people who live in countries with high levels of fish consumption are known to develop the disease less frequently. Now, scientists from Xi’an, China, have reviewed the literature and find that eating fresh fish regularly reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 12%. They evaluated 41 studies on fish consumption and colorectal cancer risk published between 1990 and 2011 and tracked cancer diagnoses. The protective effect of fish consumption is more prominent in rectal cancer than in colon cancer. The risk reduction for rectal cancer was as much as 21%, whereas the reduction for colon cancer was 4%.

“Despite the fact that colon and rectal cancer share many features and are often referred to as ‘colorectal cancer,’ they tend to demonstrate many different characteristics,” notes lead author Daiming Fan, of the Fourth Military Medical University. “One possible reason for the difference may be because colon cancers are generally more molecularly diverse, whereas rectal cancers mostly arise via a single neoplastic pathway.”

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