A Formosa Cancer Foundation survey that asked 2,565 office workers aged 25 to 59 about their living habits found that 7.6 percent of them have a history of colon polyps.
The online survey showed that 90.2 percent of respondents with colon polyps work more than 40 hours a week and 55.2 percent often work overtime, the foundation said on Friday.
The survey also showed that 70.6 percent of office workers with colon polyps are in the habit of staying up late and 66.5 percent get less than six hours of sleep a night, it said.
Furthermore, 55.2 percent of office workers with colon polyps do not eat at regular times, 60.8 percent buy their meals from street vendors and 33.5 percent cook their own meals at home, the foundation added.
A person’s diet, and sleeping and working habits can indirectly affect the distribution of their intestinal flora, said Lai Gi-ming (賴基銘), the foundation’s chief executive officer and director of Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital’s cancer center.
International studies show that having balanced intestinal flora can help reduce a person’s risk of developing colon cancer, he added.
For 10 consecutive years, colon cancer has been the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Taiwan, he said.
Although most people with colon cancer are older than 60, colon cancer is becoming more common in younger people, he said, adding that from 2005 to 2015, the prevalence of colon cancer in people under the age of 40 grew 1.5 times.
Colon polyps are a precursor to colon cancer and might develop into colon cancer within five years or as early as one or two years, Lai said, adding that people older than 40 should undergo an annual fecal occult blood test to screen for colon cancer and colon polyps.
Nutrition Foundation of Taiwan chief executive officer Wu Ying-jung (吳映蓉) said she recommends eating a balanced diet at regular times, cutting back on foods that are high in oil and red meat, and eating more fruits and vegetables.