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Clinical Topics

Weight, Not Diet, Associated With Higher Veteran Mortality From CRC

by U.S. Medicine

June 15, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — While suspected, the relationship between dietary and lifestyle risk factors and long-term mortality from colorectal cancer remains poorly understood, according to a new study.

The report in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences pointed out that factors such as obesity, intakes of red meat and use of aspirin have all been linked to risk of colorectal cancer mortality, but not all studies have been able to replicate those findings.1

The study led by researchers from the Minneapolis VA Healthcare System and the University of Minnesota sought to add to the understanding of those associations. To do that, they focused on 46,551 participants In the Minnesota Colon Cancer Control Study. The subjects, 50-80 years old were randomly assigned to usual care (control) or annual or biennial screening by fecal occult blood testing.

Dietary intake and lifestyle risk factors were assessed by questionnaires at baseline, with colon cancer mortality assessed after 30 years of follow-up.

Increasing the risk of CRC mortality were age [hazard ratio (HR) 1.09; 95% CI 1.07, -1.11], male sex (HR 1.25; 95% CI 1.01, 1.57), and higher body mass index (BMI) (HR 1.03; 95% CI 1.00-1.05).

Undergoing screening for CRC was associated, however, with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer mortality (HR 0.76; 95% CI 0.61-0.94 and 0.67; 95% CI 0.53-0.83 for biennial and annual screening, respectively).

Intakes of grains, meats, proteins, coffee, alcohol, aspirin, fiber, fruits and vegetables were not found to be associated with colorectal cancer mortality, the researchers reported.

“Our study confirms the relationship between BMI and long-term colorectal cancer mortality,” the study authors concluded. “Modulation of BMI may reduce risk of CRC mortality.”


1Shaukat A, Dostal A, Menk J, Church TR. BMI Is a Risk Factor for Colorectal Cancer Mortality. Dig Dis Sci. 2017 Sep;62(9):2511-2517. doi: 10.1007/s10620-017-4682-z. Epub 2017 Jul 21. PubMed PMID: 28733869.

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