Minimise the risk

Are you at risk?

It's not known exactly what causes bowel cancer, but there are a number of factors that can increase your risk even if you lead a relatively healthy lifestyle. 

A family history can mean prevention is out of your control. Having a close relative (mother or father, brother or sister) who developed bowel cancer under the age of 50 puts you at a greater lifetime risk.

Age can be a factor as well with almost 9 out of 10 people with bowel cancer being over the age of 60. Do remember though, young people can also be affected too.

Other bowel conditions that affect you such as severe ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease over a long period of time, can increase the risk of bowel cancer too.

Following guidelines to ensure regular screening is absolutely essential for early diagnosis and remember to look out for symptoms as well.

Your bowel is a vital organ and must be cared for. A heathy, balanced diet high in fibre and 30 minutes of exercise a day can help prevent bowel cancer and ensure you live a long life.

Diane Shepherd, Senior Nurse, Derriford Hospital

Risk within your control

Maintaining a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and cutting down on certain vices can help to steer bowel cancer away. A few small changes can make a big difference:

Diet - A major factor in cancer prevention. The old saying ‘we are what we eat’ can certainly effect the maintenance of our digestive organs.

Your digestive system operates better with a little tender love and care. We recommend following a few simple guidelines to help run a well-oiled machine:

  • Reduce the amount of processed meat you eat such as bacon, sausages and ham. Red meat has also been linked to bowel cancer and government guidelines for those eating 90g of processed and red meat a day is to cut down to 70g. Try replacing this with leaner meat such chicken or fish.
  • A diet high in fibre is also advised- make sure you are eating five pieces of fruit or vegetables a day along with other foods containing 6g fibre or more per 100g (considered to be high fibre foods) to total a daily intake of 18g.

Less meat, more fibre and fitness!

Exercise - The guidelines suggest 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week can help ward off bowel cancer.

Healthy weight - Bowel cancer is more common in people who are overweight or obese. Stick to our eating and exercise guidelines and your weight should take care of itself.

Smoking - You have heard it a hundred times: smoking leads to endless health problems. Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. It’s tough to kick the habit but when you do, the health benefits are amazing.

Alcohol - Sometimes tough to escape the social pressures (and enjoyment) of drinking but try and stop yourself from the ‘just one more’ because high levels of drinking are linked to bowel cancer.