8 Simple Ways To Avoid One Of The Deadliest Types Of Cancer
If you don’t know someone who’s been affected by cancer, you’re sadly - in the minority.
Fact is, one in every two Australians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer before the age of 85.
And while we might hear a lot about breast, prostate and skin cancers in the media, bowel cancer -- our country’s second biggest cancer killer – is deadlier than them all.
There’s no getting around it. This is seriously scary stuff.
But while it’s easy to get freaked out by all these stats, there’s actually some positive news amid all the doom-and-gloom: bowel cancer is potentially one of the most preventable cancers, and there are plenty of easy (honestly!) lifestyle hacks you can put in place to help reduce your risk.
1 Give up the cigs
C’mon, guys, we don’t need to tell you about all the reasons smoking is bad for your health. You know it’s doing all sorts of unhealthy stuff to basically every part of your body. Steering clear of the smokes will reduce your risk of not only bowel cancer, but also 15 other types of cancer. It’s a no-brainer.
2 Take a quick test
If you’re aged 50-74, when you receive the free bowel cancer screening test in the mail, don’t hesitate – just do it. You don’t have to leave your house, it’s 100 percent non-invasive, it’s easy, quick and hygienic… And it can detect signs of bowel cancer early enough to increase your chances of recovery. In fact, if caught early, up to 90 percent of cases can be treated successfully. From 2020, all eligible people aged 50-74 will receive the at home test every two years, and doing it could save your life.
3 Mind your meat
Don’t worry, carnivores, we’re not asking you to give up steak completely. But research suggests that eating red meat increases the risk of bowel cancer. Cancer Council suggests no more than three to four serves of red meat per week and (sorry) cutting out processed meats like deli meats, bacon, ham and frankfurts.
4 Get moving
You don’t have to start running marathons or take up powerlifting but getting in regular moderate exercise can help boost your metabolism and get your digestive system moving. Cancer Council recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most or all days of the week and being mindful of how much time you’re spending in couch-potato mode.
5 Eat fresh
It’s officially time to bump up your fresh fruit and vegetable intake, friends. And while you’re at it, make wholegrains a staple in your pantry. These are packed with fibre, which evidence suggests can help prevent bowel cancer by reducing the risk of problems like constipation and inflammation of the bowel wall. In fact, eating 90g of wholegrains a day can reduce your risk of bowel cancer by 17 percent.
6 Cut down alcohol
It’s good to be aware that consuming more than two standard alcoholic drinks per day can increase your bowel cancer risk along with six other cancers, so, you know, consider taking it easy. (Your liver will thank you, too.)
7 Weigh in
Honestly, if you’re nailing 3, 4 and 5, the good news is that maintaining a healthy weight is likely to follow without you having to do a whole heap more. And that’s definitely a good thing, as excess body fat has been linked to increased risk of bowel cancer (along with twelve other cancers).
8 Take a look in the loo
Look, you don’t have to tell anyone you’re well acquainted with your bowel habits. Keep it to yourself, that’s cool. But knowing what’s normal for you when taking a trip to the toilet is the ticket to being aware when something’s not right. Keep an eye out for blood in your stools, a recent and persistent change in your toilet habits (think looser poos, severe constipation and/or if you need to go more often than usual), unexplained tiredness or weight loss, and stomach pain. And if you notice any of these unusual changes, see your doctor, stat.
For more information visit bowelcancer.org.au