Lifestyle factors and their combined impact on the risk of colorectal polyps

Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Nov 1;176(9):766-76. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws157. Epub 2012 Oct 18.


Understanding patterns of shared and type-specific etiologies for colorectal polyps may provide insights into colorectal carcinogenesis. The authors present the first systematic comparison of risk factors by colorectal polyp type in a large colonoscopy-based case-control study of 3,764 polyp-free controls and 2,543 polyp patients, including 1,444 cases with adenomas only, 662 cases with hyperplastic polyps (HPPs) only, and 437 cases with synchronous HPPs and adenomas. Surveys were completed to obtain information on usual dietary intake and other lifestyle factors. Six lifestyle factors, including cigarette smoking, obesity, no regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, high intake of red meat, low intake of fiber, and low intake of calcium, were found to be independently associated with the risk of polyps. The risk of polyps increased progressively with an increasing number of adverse lifestyle factors. Compared with participants with no or only 1 risk factor, odds ratios for those with 5 to 6 risk factors were 2.72 (95% confidence interval: 1.94, 3.79) for adenoma only, 4.12 (95% confidence interval: 2.78, 6.09) for HPPs only, and 9.03 (95% confidence interval: 5.69, 14.34) for synchronous HPPs and adenomas. This study provides strong evidence that lifestyle modification is important for the prevention of colorectal polyps, especially advanced and multiple adenomas, which are established precursors of colorectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyps / epidemiology*
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colonic Polyps / epidemiology*
  • Colonoscopy
  • Diet
  • Educational Status
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / epidemiology*
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rectum / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal