The risk of getting bowel cancer and the chances of surviving it have both doubled in a generation.
Among men the lifetime risk of the disease has risen from one in 29 to around one in 15 since the mid-1970s. For women the risk has risen from one in 26 to one in 19.
Much of the increase is due to the ageing of the population. The longer we live, the more time there is for rogue mutations to occur that lead to cells multiplying in an uncontrolled fashion leading to cancer.
But rising obesity and alcohol consumption are also linked with bowel cancer.
Cancer Research UK, which published the figures, said that half of all patients now survive the disease for at least 10 years compared with a quarter in the early 1970s.