June 8 is Red Apple Day, and that means getting to know more about the disease that affects 1 in 12 of us – Bowel Cancer.
Did you know that Bowel Cancer is the second largest cause of cancer deaths in Australia? Yes, it’s a scary statistic, but with the right lifestyle choices, and stopping the disease in its tracks early on, 90% of patients can live to tell their brave tale.
Read on to see if you’re at risk – and get our top tips on what you can do to prevent it.
THE RISK FACTORS
Knowing what to avoid is the first step in avoiding developing Bowel Cancer. While it is more common in the older generation, both men and women of all ages are at risk. The most common factors are:
- Aged 50 years or over
- A personal or family history of cancer in the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast
- A history of polyps in the colon
- Have had an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis
IDENTIFYING THE SYMPTOMS
While it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve developed Bowel Cancer, it’s important to speak to your local GP if you’ve noticed any of the below.
- A change in bowel habit (frequent diarrhoea, ongoing constipation, or going to the toilet more often)
- Blood in the stool
- Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness or cramps
- Stools more narrow than usual
- A lump or mass in your tummy
- Unknown weight loss
- Persistent, severe abdominal pain
- Feeling increasingly tired and sluggish
- Increased nausea and vomiting
Like any cancer or serious disease, prevention is imperative. Here are some tips on how you can keep your bowel healthy:
STICK TO A HEALTHY DIET – That means plenty of fruit and veggies, as well as legumes (beans, peas and lentils), lean meat, fish and poultry, lots of fibre (around 30 grams a day), and a mix of dairy (milk, yoghurt and cheeses). It’s also important to limit the nasties – that means less red meat and processed meat, salt, alcohol and added sugars. Of course it also goes without saying to quit smoking and keep up your daily water intake!
KEEP ACTIVE – Keeping active is recommended to help reduce your risk, as obesity is a common contributor to Bowel Cancer. If you’re not an active person, start slowly and build your way up. Aim for around 30 minutes, three times a week. This can be in the form of a speedy jog, casual walk with the dog, or even a simple task like vacuuming the house!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
BowelScreen Australia® is an initiative of Bowel Cancer Australia and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Regularly screening can reduce your risk of developing the disease. Test kits are available at participating pharmacies or by phoning 1800 555 494.
Bowel Cancer Australia receives no government funding and relies entirely on public support.
Buy a $2 pin on Red Apple Day (June 8) and help raise awareness and join the fight to get early bowel screenings into your local community. It might just be someone close to your heart who’ll need it!
Visit Bowel Cancer Australia for more info, or make a donation now by calling 1800 555 494.