A recent Danish study suggests that 23 per cent of colorectal cancers could be avoided if people followed five simple healthy lifestyle recommendations, including exercise, a good diet, moderate drinking, no smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.

Lead researcher Dr. Anne Tjonneland of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen said that even a modest difference in your lifestyle habits may have a substantial impact on checking colorectal cancer risk.

Here are the recommendations given by the Danish researcher.

* At least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

* No more than seven drinks a week for women and 14 for men.

* Not smoking.

* Eating a healthy diet, defined as one high in fiber, with more than six servings (3 cups) a day of fruits and vegetables, and low in red meat and processed meat (no more than just over a pound a week), with less than 30 percent of total calories derived from fat.

* A waist size no more than 34.6 inches for women and 40.1 inches for men.

Data of 55,487 men and women aged 50 to 64, who had not been diagnosed with cancer, were analyzed for the lifestyle study. Each of them was questioned about social factors, health status, reproductive factors and lifestyle habits. They also completed a food frequency questionnaire that detailed what they ate over 12 months.

During 10 years of follow-up, researchers noted that 678 people developed colorectal cancer.

If all the participants (except for the healthiest men and women) had adopted just one additional lifestyle recommendation, researchers noted that at least 13 per cent of the colorectal cancer cases could have been avoided. If all of them followed the recommendation, there would be 23 per cent fewer colorectal cancer cases.

Colorectal cancer is identified as the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Noting that such recommendations could help a big way, McCullough said that it is a highly preventable cancer.

Dr. Floriano Marchetti, an assistant professor of clinical surgery in the division of colon and rectal surgery at the University of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, noted that "this study confirms on a large scale what the impression of many other small studies has only hinted at."

He also noted that the recommendations are not specifically tough to follow.

Marchetti pointed out the benefit is linear. "You modify something and you already have a return with minimal investment. If you modify more, you have a better return," he said.

Recently, Australian scholars have found that people without a high school diploma who received information about colon cancer screening through a decision aid featuring an interactive booklet and DVD ended up more informed, however it did not urge them to undergo screening.