Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Getting to the guts of the matter!

6 Steps to Protect Yourself from Bowel Cancer

Bowel Cancer, (Colorectal Cancer), affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.  Most bowel cancer starts as a pre-cancerous growth, (polyps), which may become cancerous if not treated. An untreated Bowel Cancer can spread from the colon to other parts of the body like liver or lungs.

There are some 41,000 new cases of Bowel Cancer each year in the UK, 135,000 in USA, and 11,000 in Canada. While Bowel Cancer can strike men or women at any age, the risk rises with age. The incidence is most marked over the age of 50, and highest over 85.

Bowel Cancer is preventable

Research in UK, USA and Canada shows that we can best prevent Bowel Cancer striking us in the future through the DPW of a healthy lifestyle.

  • Diet
  • Physical Activity
  • Weight Control.

To mark Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, the American Institute for Cancer Research has highlighted five steps we can take to reduce Bowel Cancer risk.

Bowel Cancer obesity

  1. Watch your weight and belly fat!
    Bowel Cancer is one of eleven Cancers linked to overweight and obesity. Latest research shows that too much belly fat, regardless of weight, increases Bowel Cancer risk.
    If you are unhealthily overweight, even losing 10 pounds or so – and keeping it off – will benefit your health.

Start reducing your weight by limiting your portions, choosing more colourful vegetables and reducing servings of calorie-packed foods like meats, cheese and nuts. Limit desserts, puddings and sweets to just two or three times a week in small portions.

  1. Get Active!

Research shows that moderate physical activity – be it housework, walking or jogging - reduces the risk of Bowel Cancer.

Find 10 minutes today to move, whether taking a break at work or while watching TV. Build on that over time by taking more activity breaks or extending the 10 minutes to 30 minutes.

Bowel Cancer heart

  1. Eat plenty of fibre
    Eating a diet with plenty of high fibre foods lowers the risk of Bowel and other Cancers. For every 10 grams of fibre coming from foods daily – slightly less than a cup of beans – the risk of Bowel Cancer is reduced by 10%. Fill two-thirds or more of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts and cut the amount of animal protein from poultry and red meat to no more than one-third.
  2. Cut down on red and avoid processed meat
    Regularly eating high amounts of red meat and even small amounts of processed meat increases bowel cancer risk. Ounce for ounce, consuming processed meat increases Bowel Cancer risk twice as much as consuming red meat. Processed meats include hot dogs, bacon, sausage and deli meats such as chorizo and salami.
    Limit your red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week – roughly the equivalent of five or six small cooked portions of beef, lamb or pork. Keep bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats for special occasions.

Bowel cancer Booze
5. Limit your alcohol intake
There is convincing evidence that drinking alcohol increases the risk of Bowel and other Cancers. If you don't drink, don't start! If you do drink, limit your alcohol take to not more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day for men; one for women.
Check out how much a standard drink is by measuring the following amounts and pouring it into your glassware: 5 ounces of wine, 12 oz. beer and 1.5 ounces of liquor.

  1. Enjoy plenty of garlic
    Include garlic in your diet. Regular consumption can reduce the risk of Bowel Cancer.
    Add chopped garlic to stews, stir-fries, vegetables and roasted meats. Chop the garlic then wait 10-15 minutes before cooking in order to activate the health-promoting ingredients.

Bowel Cancer Screening

In addition to the above prevention recommendations suggested by AICR, a key role in Bowel Cancer prevention is regular screening. This will ensure early discovery of any pre-cancerous growth (polyps) before it becomes cancerous. Early discovery means early successful treatment. Mortality rates for all cancers are frequently due to late diagnosis. Screening is available on the NHS in England for those who are over 55 and registered with a GP. Check out the NHS.UK website

and for those over 50 in Scotland. Checkj out the NHS Scotland website

Screening recommendations in USA can be found on the American Cancer Society website

Bowl Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo.
  • A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason.
  • A pain or lump in your tummy.

Further Reading

Understanding Bowel Cancer

Cancer Research Society


Beating Bowel Cancer

Dietary Topics

7 Signs of Colon Cancer

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