Male smokers and drinkers at greatest bowel cancer risk, says study

In collaboration with the Press Association

Male smokers and drinkers appear to develop bowel cancer at an earlier age than others, US researchers have claimed, in a new study published in the archives of internal medicine.

Because people with bowel cancer rarely experience any symptoms until the disease has developed beyond its earliest stages - when treatment is most effective - screening is thought to be critical in reducing deaths. Previous studies have suggested that smoking and drinking might increase bowel cancer risk. The UK government intends to bring in a bowel screening programme targeted at people in their 60s

The researchers are now calling on tobacco and alcohol use to be added to the list of other factors, such as family history, that may cause doctors to recommend screening at an earlier age.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the UK and the third most common among men, with almost 34,900 new cases diagnosed annually.

Find out more about bowel cancer

Find out about tobacco and cancer risk

Find out about alcohol and cancer risk