June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. So what do we need to be aware of?
Most people think that bowel cancer is an older person’s disease. It’s not. Although the risk of bowel cancer increases with age, it’s the most common cause of cancer death for Australians aged 25 to 35. Overall it’s the second most common cancer in both men and women. But the good news is that it’s one of the most treatable cancers if diagnosed early.
What symptoms should you look out for? The symptoms of bowel cancer can be vague and similar to milder bowel diseases. Therefore see your doctor if the changes are persistent or inexplicable. They include:
- Diarrhoea, constipation or the feeling of incomplete emptying
- Blood in your stools
- Abdominal, rectal or anal pain
- Bloating or a lump in your back passage
- Unaccountable weight loss, fatigue or anaemia
In Australia, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offers everyone aged 50 to 74 a free faecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years. It will arrive in the mail with instructions. Do it!
In the mean time, here are the top seven ways to reduce your risk of bowel cancer:
- Don’t smoke.
- Don’t have more than one standard alcoholic drink per day (10 grams of alcohol).
- Don’t eat processed food including processed meats.
- Eat at least 40 grams of fibre every day ie fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes and oats. Build up to this amount if you are not used to eating much plant food. Eat as diverse a range of plants as you have access to. Focus on what is seasonal and locally produced.
- Move your body for 30 minutes every day — exercise has a protective effect on our gut lining through its effect on our gut bacteria.
- Liberally splash olive oil over your vegetables.
- Avoid anything that contains vegetable oil or seed oils. Note that avocados and olives are fruits.
If you think this sounds like the same old boring health advice, you’re right. The same old simple advice is the best way to avoid all diseases. And it’s the best way to avoid depression and dementia. And that’s the problem. Because the advice is so humdrum, we underestimate its power. We prefer the allure of a flashy quick fix or secret longevity supplement. But they don’t exist. The secret is you and your daily choices. Of course genetics play a role. But 90% of our health is determined by the decisions we make every day of our lives. You only need to commit to making healthy choices one day at a time. Enjoy the control you are taking of your destiny. Enjoy reawakening your tastebuds to fresh whole foods. Enjoy reawakening your body to invigorating movement. Enjoy reawakening to your power.
Please forward this Health-e-Byte to anyone who wants to take charge of their health.