Cancer prevention

The risk of colorectal cancer is related to our lifestyle, includingdietary habits.

Physical activity is shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, while high body weight, alcoholic beverages and eating a large amount of processed meat increases the risk.

It is estimated that about 45% of colorectal cancer cases in the western world could have been prevented with more healthy living habits.

You can do a lot to help keep your body healthy. Some choices will affect your health more than others. Nevertheless, it is a healthy diet and lifestyle as a whole that is needed to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. 

Although you can do your part to keep healthy, good living habits alone are no guarantee to avoid colorectal cancer. You can live a healthy life and still get colorectal cancer. Therefore, it is important that you consult a doctor if you get persistent bowel problems. Participating in ColorectalScreen Norway may lower your risk of dying from colorectal cancer.

Physical activity

Physical activity reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. It helps to control body weight and maintain a stable blood sugar, in addition to many other beneficial effects. Adult persons are recomended to be physically active with moderate intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. This means an activity that results in faster breathing than usual, such as brisk walking.

Overweight and obesity

Overweight and obesity increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Our fatty tissue secretes hormones and pro-inflammatory substances that cause an imbalance and stress for the body. The more overweight you are, the greater is the  risk of fat producing hormones and substances that can be harmful to you. A normal body weight helps maintain your health and prevent cancer and several other diseases.A normal weight person is on the BMI scale from 18.5-24.9 kg/m2. This means, for example, that a person who is 170 cm tall must have a weight of between 54 and 72 kilos to be considered normal weight. People who are overweight or obese have a 5-10% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than normal-weight people. You can easily calculate your BMI by using BMI calculators online.


Alcohol intake increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
There is no lower limit for what is considered a safe intake of alcohol to prevent colorectal cancer.Although we do not know what is a safe intake of alcohol, we know that even one unit per day for women and two units per day for men can increase the risk of getting colorectal cancer.
An alcohol unit is, for example, a glass of wine, a small bottle of beer, or 4 cl of spirits. 


Smoking increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with the amount of cigarettes you smoke. If you stop smoking, the risk will be reduced. As a smoker If you smoke, you have on average 18% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than a non-smoker.


If you want to eat food that gives the lowest possible risk of colorectal cancer, you should have a diet that contains
  • Plenty of whole grain and high-fiber foods
  • Moderate amounts of dairy products
  • Limited amounts of red meat
  • Very little processed meat

These are food items that we know may affect your gut. A healthy and varied diet also includes other foods such as fruits and vegetables.


Whole grains and fiber

Good sources of fiber are whole grain products such as bread with whole grain, oatmeal, whole grain rice and whole grain pasta.

Other good sources of fiber are:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit and berries
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans, lentils and peas

It is recommended to eat a total of 70-90 grams of total flour or whole grain per day to get enough fiber. For example, five slices of bread with whole grain or a portion of oatmeal and a portion of whole grain pasta together.

If you eat 90 grams of whole grain products per day, you will have a 17% lower risk of colorectal cancer than if you do not eat whole grain products at all.Whole grain products affect intestinal health in several ways. Among other things, it has a positive effect on your gut microbiome.

Dairy products

Intake of dairy products seems to protect against colorectal cancer. This is probably due to the high content of calcium in milk and other dairy products.

If you consume 400 grams of dairy products per day, you have a 13% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than if you do not consume any dairy products.

400 grams of dairy products is equivalent to around two glasses of milk.

Processed and red meat

Processed meat means all meat products that are either cured, salted, smoked or have something else added to it to increase shelf life.

Examples of processed meat products include:

  • Sausages
  • Bacon
  • Meat spreads such as salami, bologna sausage and cooked ham
  • Chops, meatballs and other products made from minced meat
  • Minced meat with added salt

By red meat we talk about meat from mammals such as cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.
For many, meat products are an important source of several nutrients, and red meat can therefore be included as part of a healthy and varied diet. But be aware of the amount of meat and what types of meat you eat.

The most important thing is not that the intake of red meat as low as possible to enjoy meat without increasing the risk of colorectal cancer. However, the intake should not exceed 500 grams of meat per week. Above this level, the risk of cancer appears to be increasing.
This amounts to about two dinners with red meat a week, as well as some cold cuts.

By making smart choices in the meat counter, you can also make good choices for your health.