Monks Park Doctors Surgery's monthly column - April 2019
April’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is an annual event increasing awareness of bowel cancer as well as to raise funds towards treating this condition.
It is driven by two harities Beating Bowel Cancer and Bowel Cancer UK, who have merged with the main aim of ensuring that there should be no victim of Bowel Cancer by 2050.
Bowel Cancer is the second biggest UK’s killer cancer. Since it is treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed at an early stage this really shouldn’t be the case. This is the reason why April has been set aside to educate and raise awareness of bowel cancer
Some of the common symptoms of bowel cancer to be aware of include:
Bleeding from the bottom and blood in poo
Persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
Sudden and unexplained weight loss
Being easily fatigued with no obvious reason or cause
Pain or a lump in the tummy
To reduce your risk of bowel cancer, and indeed any cancer, you could try adopting the following lifestyle changes:
Eating healthily helps your digestive system work well and can reduce your risk of bowel cancer.
Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet and helps reduce your risk of bowel cancer. Fibre keeps everything moving easily through your digestive system. You can increase your fibre intake with many of the foods from the Government#s Eatwell Guide (available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide)
Getting your 5 A Day
As well as containing fibre, vegetables and fruit may also help to protect against bowel cancer because they contain antioxidants, which are substances that help to delay or prevent cell damage. We all know eating five portions of vegetables and fruit a day forms part of a healthy, balanced diet.
We need protein in our diet to help our body repair cells and make new ones. There are many good sources of protein shown in the Eatwell Guide. These include chicken, fish, peas, beans, tofu and lentils. But there is strong evidence that eating a lot of red and processed meat increases your risk of bowel cancer.
Alcohol and smoking
Alcohol is linked to seven types of cancer including bowel cancer. Alcohol can damage cells, making them more likely to become cancerous. For cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol at all.
People who are more physically active have a lower risk of bowel cancer. Being active can help you keep to a healthy body weight and helps to make you feel good.
Be a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese and carrying a lot of weight around your waist can increase your risk of bowel cancer. Measuring your BMI (Body Mass Index) is a simple way of finding out if you’re a healthy weight for your height. Your practice nurse, GP or dietitian can help you or you can check your BMI on the NHS website here: