03:29am Thursday 17 October 2019

Lifestyle determines risk of colon and rectal cancer more than genetics

The team lead by Professor Víctor Moreno.

The team lead by Professor Víctor Moreno.

With these data, the research team concluded that the lifestyle determines the risk of cancer more than genetics do.

With these data, the research team concluded that the lifestyle determines the risk of cancer more than genetics do.


Researchers from the Colorectal Cancer research group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), led by Víctor Moreno, and linked to the University of Barcelona (UB), the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), and the Epidemiology and Public Health CIBER (CIBEResp), developed the first risk prediction model on colorectal cancer based on data from Spain which combines genetic information with lifestyles. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, highlights the importance of improving lifestyle in order to reduce the risk of colon cancer and it proposes using genetic information combined with lifestyle to divide population into different groups according to their risk of colon cancer and therefore fine-tune the current early detection screening method.

“A risk model is a mathematical tool that allows us to predict who is most likely to suffer from a certain disease, in this case, colon cancer”, says Moreno, head of the ICO Cancer Prevention and Control Program and professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB. In order to carry the study out, researchers used data from the Spanish multicentre study MCC-Spain, conducted by researchers of CIBEResp and which had a total of 10.106 participants. All people taking part in the study were interviewed in order to know about the known risk factors (diet, physical activity, body mass index, alcohol, family history of cancer, among others). At the same time, a subgroup of 1.336 cases of colorectal cancer and 2.774 controls, underwent a blood test to detect the genetic pre-disposition to develop colon and rectal cancer.

With these data, the research team concluded that the lifestyle determines the risk of cancer more than genetics do. The experts calculated that if a lifestyle changes risks –for example, reaching a healthy body weight- this can balance the fact of having four risk points of genetic pre-disposition (risk alleles). “This is important, taking into account that lifestyle, unlike genetic traits, is somewhat modifiable, while genetic susceptibility is inherited from our parents” says the researcher Gemma Ibáñez, digestologist and first author of the study.

“In fact, -continues Ibáñez- the items we identified as risk markers are correlated with the recommendations set by the European Code against Cancer, published a year ago, to reduce the risk of suffering from cancer.

According to Professor Moreno, “nowadays, patients who don’t have a family history of cancer, colon cancer screening is only based on age. If we included information related to lifestyle and genetics, we could list population in groups of greater or lesser risk, which would allow us to make a more personalized monitoring”.

The research team that participated in the study is now conducting a new study called COLSCREEN (Personalization of the risk of colorectal cancer) aiming to determine, among other factors, which is the social perception on genetic screening. “There are no studies showing what patients think about their genetic tests, or whether they want to know about the probabilities of suffering from certain diseases, and we think this is very important”, says Gemma Ibáñez. At the same time, with this new study, the researchers want to assess the usefulness of the risk score system for colon cancer applying it prospectively on the people in Baix Llobregat.

Article Reference:

G. Ibáñez-Sanz, A. Díez-Villanueva, M.H Alonso, F. Rodríguez-Moranta, B. Pérez-Gómez, M. Bustamante, V. Martin, J. Llorca, P. Amiano, E. Ardanaz, A. Tardón, J.J. Jiménez-Moleón, R. Peiró, J. Alguacil, C. Navarro, E. Guinó, G. Binefa, P.F. Navarro, A. Espinosa, V. Dávila-Batista, A.J. Molina, C. Palazuelos, G. Castaño-Vinyals, N. Aragonés, M. Kogevinas, M. Pollán i V. Moreno. «Risk Model for Colorectal Cancer in Spanish Population Using Environmental and Genetic Factors: Results from the MCC-Spain study». Scientific Reports, February, 2017.


Universitat de Barcelona

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