A study to assess the impact of giving lifestyle advice to people who have had a bowel polyp removed (BeWEL)

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer





This study looked at the impact of an intervention about diet, physical activity and body weight on people who have had a bowel polyp removed.

Growths in the bowel, called polyps Open a glossary item or adenomas, are not cancerous, but they can develop into bowel cancer over a period of time. Bowel cancer screening can find signs of polyps. You can then have these removed during a test called a colonoscopy before they become cancerous. But being overweight may affect the risk of adenomas coming back.

This study was for people who had taken part in the bowel cancer screening programme in Scotland, who had had a polyp removed and were overweight or obese.

Everybody who took part was given a leaflet containing advice on ways to reduce their risk of developing cancer (and conditions like diabetes) by changing their diet, increasing activity levels and losing weight. Some people also had a face to face session with a lifestyle counsellor who gave them in depth advice.

The aim of the study was to assess what impact advice from a lifestyle counsellor has on weight loss (and other lifestyle changes) over a 1 year period.

Summary of results

The study team found that a diet and physical activity programme can help people at risk of developing bowel cancer to lose weight. And the researchers say that this could possibly help people to lower their risk of bowel cancer in the future.

329 people between the age of 50 and 74 took part and

  • Half were given a booklet with information on different ways to lose weight  (the control group)
  • Half were given the same booklet and also had 3 face to face visits with a lifestyle counsellor and monthly phone calls from the counsellor for a year (the intervention group)

At set times in the study, the researchers weighed everybody, recorded their blood pressure, did some blood tests and measured levels of physical activity. Everybody filled in some questionnaires that asked about their diet.

After a year the researchers had information for

  • 148 out of 163 people in the intervention group
  • 157 out of 166 people in the control group

They compared the average amount of weight that people had lost between the 2 groups. They found that

  • The people in the control group had lost 0.78kg (about 1.5 lbs) on average
  • The people in the intervention group had lost 3.5kg (over 7.5lbs) on average

The researchers found that people in the intervention group continued to lose weight in the year that the study took place. The people in the control group lost a bit of weight in the first 3 months. But after that they didn’t lose much weight at all.

After a year the researchers found that people in the intervention group had better controlled blood pressure and sugar levels in the blood. And they were much more physically active than the control group.

The researchers concluded that a one year individual weight loss programme helped people to lose weight, change their diets and improve their levels of physical activity.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Annie Anderson

Supported by

MRC National Prevention Research Initiative
NHS Research Scotland
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University of Dundee

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 6018

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Alan took part in a clinical trial for bowel cancer patients

A picture of ALan

“I think it’s essential that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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