Leading a healthier lifestyle could prevent almost a quarter of the 1.2 million cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed each year, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal and reported by Reuters.

For the 10-year study, researchers collected data from questionnaires about lifestyle and diet from 55,847 cancer-free participants, ages 50 to 64.

The participants were recommended to follow five health tips: engage in physical activity for 30 minutes each day, drink alcohol in moderation (no more than seven alcoholic beverages each week for women and no more than 14 for men), have a specific waist circumference (below 35 inches for women, 40 inches for men), eat a healthy diet and don’t smoke.

During the decade of follow-up, researchers found that 678 participants were diagnosed with colon cancer.

After analyzing how well participants followed guidelines—for example, how many of the tips they followed—researchers calculated that following one extra guideline would have prevented 13 percent of cancer diagnoses. What’s more, if the men and women had followed all five guidelines, 23 percent of the cancer cases would have been eliminated.

“Our study reveals the useful public health message that even modest differences in lifestyle might have a substantial impact on colorectal cancer risk,” said Anne Tjonelland, MD, lead researcher, from the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology at the Danish Cancer Society.

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