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  • Health & Medicine

Six ways to reduce your risk of bowel cancer

by Casey Dunlop | Analysis

5 April 2016

63 comments 63 comments
GP appointment patient

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in both men and women. And while research means survival is improving, the rates of people being diagnosed with the disease are also rising. A whole range of factors play into this, not least the fact that more people in the UK are living to an older age when cancer is more common. There isn’t much anyone can do about getting older, but we also know that more than half of bowel cancer cases are linked to lifestyle factors – which are much more within our control.

Making small changes to our day-to-day lives can make a big difference to the risk of developing bowel cancer. Read on to find out how, and share our graphic on social media to help spread the word this month.

1. Eat more fresh chicken, fish and meat-free meals

People who eat a diet low in processed and red meat are less likely to develop bowel cancer. Around one in five cases of bowel cancer in the UK are linked to eating too much processed and red meat. Although researchers aren’t sure exactly why this is, the main culprits appear to be certain chemicals in the meat itself.

While a bacon sandwich every now and then isn’t going to do much harm, if you’re eating a lot of processed and red meat then it’s a good idea to try to cut down. Try swapping it for fresh chicken and fish, bulking out meals with beans and vegetables to use smaller portions of meat, or choosing meat-free meals like vegetable lasagnes, curries and pasta bakes.

If you need ideas, Change4life has a great range of healthier recipes.

2. Keep a healthy weight

Keeping a healthy weight not only cuts your risk of bowel cancer, but could also reduce your risk of nine other types of cancer too. Researchers think this is because excess fat in our bodies can change our hormone levels and produce chemical messengers, which in turn can increase cancer risk.

But crash diets probably won’t help people lose weight in the long term. The best way to lose weight (and keep it off for good) is by making small changes to your daily life that you can stick to – like cutting down on sugary drinks, keeping an eye on food labels, and walking more.

Our website has more tips on how to keep a healthy weight, or visit Change4life.

3. Eat more fibre

Eating a diet high in fibre helps reduce the risk of bowel cancer in a number of ways. And one of the main ones seems to be by helping food pass through your body more quickly.

Fruit, vegetables, beans and lentils are all great sources of fibre, as well as whole grain varieties of bread, pasta and cereals. Meals don’t need to get fancy to get in more fibre. Think beans on wholemeal toast, brown pasta rather than white, and beans and peas in casseroles.

4. Drink less alcohol

We’re not saying you have to go tee-total, but it’s important to know the less you drink the lower your risk (it’s not just heavy drinking that’s linked to cancer).

So if you are going to drink alcohol, stick to the guidelines – that’s a maximum of 14 units of alcohol a week, spread evenly over at least three days. Drink free days are a good way to cut down on the total amount of alcohol you drink. Also try choosing smaller servings, drinks with lower ABVs – or cutting down on the alcohol in your drink by making it a shandy or wine spritzer.

Read this blog post to find out more about the guidelines and how many units are in different drinks. And visit our website for more tips on how to cut down on alcohol.

5. Be smokefree

Smoking doesn’t just cause lung cancer. It causes at least 13 other types of cancer (including bowel) as well as heart disease and various lung diseases. Chemicals in cigarette smoke enter the bloodstream and can affect the entire body – and it’s these that have been shown to damage our DNA and lead to cancer.

If you smoke and you want to quit, you’re much more likely to quit successfully if you get professional support rather than going it alone. There’s a whole range of free services to help keep you on track, including prescription medication and different types of support.

Speak to your GP or pharmacist, or visit NHS Smokefree for free advice and support.

6. Be active

Keeping active has a wide range of benefits for the body, including reducing the risk of bowel cancer. This is through helping food move through the bowel more quickly, as well as controlling inflammation.

It can be easier than you think to be more active, even if you don’t do much at the moment. Aim to do at least two and a half hours of moderate activity (e.g. brisk walking) a week – it may sound like a lot but you don’t need to do it all in one go – that’s just over 20 minutes each day. Build up how active you are over time. Try walking part of the way to work, and taking the stairs rather than the escalator or lift.

The more active you are, the greater the benefits you can gain – but remember it’s never too late to start.

And if you notice something unusual, talk to your doctor

Although it won’t strictly reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer, we couldn’t write this post without mentioning early diagnosis. Bowel cancer can develop at any age, but more than eight in 10 cases are diagnosed in people aged 60 and over, so this is especially important advice for older people.

When bowel cancer is diagnosed in the early stages, before it’s had time to get too big or spread, more than nine in 10 people will survive for at least five years. But when it’s found at a later stage, there may be fewer options to try to cure it, so the chances of survival are lower.

Get to know what’s normal for you, and tell your GP if you see blood in your poo, or about any change to your bowel habit – such as looser poo, pooing more often, and/or constipation – pain or a lump in your tummy, or losing weight without any reason. All of these are likely to be caused by something much less serious than bowel cancer, but it’s best to get them or any other unusual changes checked out by your GP.

Bowel cancer screening is for healthy people, without any signs or symptoms of the disease. If you’ve noticed something unusual, whatever your screening history, you should see your GP.

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, bowel screening tests are offered to people aged 60-74 every two years. In Scotland it’s offered from the age of 50. If you’re registered with a GP this test is sent automatically to your home in the post.

Unfortunately, the number of people taking up their bowel screening invitation is not as high as it could be. So we’re encouraging more people to consider taking part. We’re running campaigns in parts of the UK to see if using posters, letters, and kits to help people do the test more easily can make a difference by breaking down barriers to participation.

Small changes can make a big difference

Making changes doesn’t have to mean a massive overhaul of your lifestyle – if it’s something you do most days, even a small change can add up to a big difference.

And remember, if you do spot anything that’s unusual for you, it’s worth going to your GP to get it checked out. And if a bowel screening kit pops through your letter box, taking part is easier than you think.

Casey Dunlop is a health information officer at Cancer Research UK

 


    Comments

  • Laurette
    28 April 2016

    Very Informative and clearly done with beautiful and honest graphics. (I’m a Psychologist and a Statistician so I know what appeals visually to people).
    The most important thing about this site is that it is inspiring people to get off their duffs and make improvements to their lifestyle.

  • Anne Kirby
    28 April 2016

    I had bowel cancer in 2008 and was extremely lucky to survive as the tumour had almost blocked my bowel. After several visits to my GP,over a five month period, he still insisted it was irritable bowel, even after mentioning my brother died from bowel cancer. After an emergency operation to remove half of my colon and six months of chemo I am now eight years on and feel very lucky, but feel my GP should have looked for bowel cancer much sooner.

  • Geoff Garnett
    27 April 2016

    Excellent site – clear and succinct

  • Nick Peel
    27 April 2016

    Hi Jayne,
    Thanks for your comment.
    In 2003, an advisory group called the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) recommended that bowel cancer screening should be offered to eligible people between the ages of 50-74.
    But it’s up to each individual government from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to decide what age group to offer screening to.
    More than eight in 10 cases of bowel cancer in the UK are diagnosed in people over the age of 60. And this will be taken into account when deciding where to set the age brackets for bowel screening.
    A new screening test called bowel scope is also being introduced in England. This will be offered to people at age 55.
    You can find out more information about bowel screening on our website.
    Best wishes,
    Nick, Cancer Research UK

  • David Bevan
    27 April 2016

    ‘The number of UK cases that can be prevented’ is an important statistic for UK public health. But the risk reduction for the individual person achieved by these ‘small changes’…is small. Even added together, they do not reduce the individual’s risk of bowel cancer as much as a screening colonoscopy performed every ten years after the age of sixty. But that of course would require significant funding…

  • Jayne
    26 April 2016

    Why does bowel screening begin at 50 in Scotland, but we have to wait until 60 in England? Surely we should all be treated equally.

  • Diana Macdonald
    26 April 2016

    Very informative. I had a tumour and part of my large bowel removed twenty years ago. Sadly I reported all my symptoms to my GP very early but they failed to diagnose it until several months later when it had grown horribly big and I was really ill. Doctors tend to look for bleeding or diarrhoea and I had severe constipation and tiredness. Please push for tests – I didn’t.

  • Mrs Carol Hall
    26 April 2016

    This is an excellent informative article! My husband had bowel cancer 4 years ago! He was caught early, had an operation, as is now clear! So all help telling everyone what to do to avoid risks is excellent!!

  • Laura
    25 April 2016

    And don’t forget to report strange bowel symptoms to your GP – this is no time to be inhibited. It could save your life.

  • Eileen
    25 April 2016

    Interesting article. I would also urge people to carry out the bowel screening if a kit pops through the letterbox. Mine came back abnormal and I had to repeat it twice more. It was a bit worrying but the follow-up colonoscopy which was carried out at a hospital showed I had polyps. These were removed from my colon and bowel, in a short one day visit, not too uncomfortable. I will now be checked every three years. I am glad I didn’t ignore the test and it is so easy to do.

  • Sam Macdonald
    24 April 2016

    This is a very helpful and well laid out article/blog. The simple way to look a lot of the healthiest options in terms of diet is to eat things in their most natural forms ie unprocessed meats and breads with visible grains and fruit and vegetables with their skins on.

  • Sally Jolley
    24 April 2016

    Very good thank you

  • Sheila Rogers
    24 April 2016

    I had bowel cancer in September 2014. Mine was caught early and had not spread. I had tumour and part of my colon removed. I’m now on 5 year follow up plan. I’m one of the lucky ones.

  • Kim
    24 April 2016

    Small changes I must eat more brown bread, I am lucky I don’t like processed meat but I do like a bit of beef and red wine.

  • MrDavid John Thomas
    22 April 2016

    In my case I can’t exercise , I’ve got an enlarged prostrate,I’ve also got cpld so I have trouble breathing, and I’m overweight , and I’ve got diabetes type 2 on insulin ,and have a very bad hip ,so I can’t walk more than 10 yards before I’m out of breath.

  • Kate Fraser
    22 April 2016

    Test showed cancer in one of my work colleagues and pretty much saved his life. He has no sign now & gets regular checks. Everyone should do it! Hubby & myself take part every 2 years without any problem so far. Better informed than not I say!!

  • Anbe Pearce
    22 April 2016

    Excellent advice which I took 7 years ago until present day. I’m grateful for the 2 yearly screening programme and cannot understand why people ignore it.

  • Helen
    22 April 2016

    Very helpful thank you

  • Karen Tompkins
    13 April 2016

    I think its a good article and informative but needs to be out there in leaflets given by GP’s to all patients regardless of age. If a GP diagnoses IBS then the Test should be offered regardless of age and even an Ultrasound as well.

  • Roselynn Bellamy
    12 April 2016

    I think this is very informative but think that tests should be available to people younger than 55. My husband has bowel cancer and he is currently In treatment. I have had IBS so a lot of the symptoms are similar and I feel that the test should be available to patients who have IBS earlier .

  • Mrs J Christie-Macallan
    11 April 2016

    A very good report very informative. Early diagnosis is very important. I know it happened to me and I have beaten it.

  • Shirley Morse
    10 April 2016

    A good article with sensible advice.

  • S Chaplain
    9 April 2016

    Very helpful advice,laid out clearly and in a memorable way.

  • Yasmin
    8 April 2016

    Great article.

  • Kathryn Riddick
    8 April 2016

    Very useful information and the emphasis on starting with small changes will hopefully encourage more people to try and alter their lifestyle.

  • Anna Tingle
    8 April 2016

    This is very helpful and clear advice

  • Sara
    8 April 2016

    Great article. This

  • Jan Brookes
    8 April 2016

    Thank you. Very easy to understand and read.

  • Vivienne Clarke
    8 April 2016

    Very informative, giving good sound and sensible advice on prevention measures by taking simple steps.

  • Denis Woolmard
    8 April 2016

    Very easy to read and understand. Some of the suggestions are obvious like the damage smoking does. Thankyou for the information.

  • Jayne longden
    8 April 2016

    It’s great to be able to access this information so easily, Also it’s way to read and understand thank you .

  • Brian Flynn
    8 April 2016

    Very informative Exellent presentation easy to follow

  • Christine Parker
    8 April 2016

    Excellent article

  • Pam
    8 April 2016

    Very interesting and easy to read. It is always good to keep up to date with new findings.

  • Rosemary McGhie
    8 April 2016

    Excellent gives you the potential risk factors without being over alarmist

  • Colin Trott
    7 April 2016

    Keeping abreast of research and ways of combatting types of cancer is essential. Your articles fit the bill exactly with general life improvement suggestions and good information for discussion and decision taking.

  • linda offen
    7 April 2016

    The more info the better. Education is all.

  • Nigel Appleford
    7 April 2016

    I agree with Paul and A Hunt, the fish symbol is misleading. Does no one check for mistakes before publication?

  • Jane Thwaite
    7 April 2016

    Please continue the stick tests after 74 automatically.

  • Christine
    7 April 2016

    good article very informative and helpful

  • Gillian Wightwick
    7 April 2016

    Why stop screening at 74??? Seems like age discrimination to me (about to be 80).
    Two friends who died of, bowel cancer could hardly have had a better diet:: home-made, wholemeal, veg and fruit oriented, etc etc. So please avoid giving the impression that this is yet another cancer or disease which is under our control via diet and lifestyle. It makes sufferers (aka victims) seem blameworthy, when maybe it’s in the stars, or somewhere.

  • Pierre Vantyghem
    7 April 2016

    Early diagnosis is vital so encouraging people to go to their doctors is a must to give a
    good survival chance. Ignoring systems and being afraid to go to the doctors in case
    you might be told you have cancer is something holding some people back .A TV advertising programme to show a lack of courage in going to the doctors would I am sure be benifical.

  • Kate
    7 April 2016

    Good advice. Checking your body should be the 7th way to prevent, or slow down the growth of any type of cancer.

  • Ian White
    7 April 2016

    My wife unfortunately contracted metastatic bowel cancer even though she had adhered to all six of your recommendations all her life!! It was also not detected by her routine NHS stool tests which she always did. By the time she developed symptoms because it had spread to her ovaries it was too late to eradicate it completely and so following a major operation she has had to endure repeated chemotherapy and other treatments for more than three years. This is not to suggest that the six recommendations are not very worthwhile but only that they will not nessarily prevent bowel cancer in everyone.

  • Claire Westwood
    7 April 2016

    As someone who has been found to have late stage bowel cancer at the age of 58, it is not helpful to read that chances of survival are lower. Having had no symptoms apart from a bit of heartburn and 3 admissions to A & E and finally being diagnosed with a partial obstruction it was discovered on a ct scan. So it doesn’t always follow that you have to have ‘changes’

  • Eileen Burns
    7 April 2016

    Very good article. Diverticulitus can also give the same symptons so it is important you check with your GP to put your mind at rest. Worry when you have something to worry about.

  • Rosemary Combe
    7 April 2016

    Why stop the bowel test at 74? After that we have to remember to ask for it. People can be active and generally fit after that age.

  • Helen
    7 April 2016

    It seems wrong to give people false hope by implying that if they obey every command on that list, they’re safe from bowel cancer: just ask my grandmother. Oh no, too late, you can’t, because that active, slightly underweight, non-smoking teetotaller who lived mostly on the produce of a large garden and an allotment died of bowel cancer!

  • Maureen Rees
    7 April 2016

    I donate to cancer research. My best friend aged 70 had an abnormal bowel screening (hidden blood). She is also anaemic; breathless and has to attend the loo regularly, with loose stools, throughout the day. Because she is so tiny a colonoscopy could not be performed and a cat scan revealed all clear. However no answer has been given for the anaemia; breathlessness; indigestion; hidden blood and change in bowel habit. Clearly she is relieved but also concerned that no definite answers have be given. How reliable is a CAT scan please ?

  • Vicky Osborne
    7 April 2016

    My Mum did all of the things you’re supposed to do, including taking a bowel screening test which came back negative. She was diagnosed early with bowl cancer, had an operation to remove the tumour and then had chemo for 6 months to make sure all the cancerours cells had gone. The chemo didn’t stop the cancer from spreading to her liver and in June last year she was given 18 months to live. She died before Christmas, not even making it to 6 months. She was 68 and had been incredibly fit and healthy all her life. Sometimes you can do everything right and still be so unlucky. I say do what you enjoy, regardless of whether it’s ‘good for you’ or not. Just enjoy the life you have.

  • A Hunt
    7 April 2016

    First thing I noticed was a fish picture on the “Eat less processed and red meat” advice balloon chart ….better to show sausages etc surely when we are encouraged to eat more FISH I see Paul said this too. What about some chat on keeping body less acidic too ! A Hospital nurse knew nothing about this, yet I have read much on this and it’s another way of showing how over sugar intake needs major alteration..

  • Brian Johnson
    7 April 2016

    Different people respond in different ways. All the six points are helpful in their own ways but the key idea, I think, is moderation in all things! The most important point stated is ‘and if you notice something unusual, talk to your doctor’. I did just this (haemorrhoids) 15 years ago, was diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer and am here to tell the tale!

  • Aaron
    7 April 2016

    David and Michelle – you can do things to make cancer less LIKELY, but there are no known ways to prevent it 100%. This article is just helping people to make it less likely that they get cancer!

  • Paul
    7 April 2016

    Why is there a fish icon, on the graphic for red meat? Do you mean red fish as well?

  • Mark
    7 April 2016

    David

    They can’t. The article addresses known risk factors that they estimate could help prevent half of the cases of bowel cancer, so half would still happen even if we all took their advice. There are still other risk factors needing to be found and more work to be done to have a chance of preventing every case or at least spotting it early but reducing by half is a good start.

  • Angela Lauder
    7 April 2016

    More knowledge like this is very helpful. I think it’s people having confidence to go to the doctors early. And the doctors being sensitive on any cancer systems.

  • Mrs D. J. Clay
    7 April 2016

    Very interesting and helpful information , although I’ve had cancer twice I’m very aware of the dangers

  • David
    7 April 2016

    my brother in law has just had a bowel cancer operated on, thankfully they got it all.
    but hes been a veggie all his life so he dont eat meat hes a healthy weight etc.. only thing is on this list he drinks alcohol within reason, so explain why he go it?

  • Elaine Anderson
    7 April 2016

    The advice on reducing bowel cancer is very difficult to follow if you are also type 2 diabetic as most of the alternative foods recommended are a no-no. Beans and pulses, for example, make my sugar levels rocket.

  • James
    7 April 2016

    Michelle (April 6th), I think you misunderstand the point of this article, which aims to highlight important risk factors associated with bowel cancer. The article does not purport to be an exhaustive list of all risk factors, or claim that addressing these highlighted risk factors will definitively prevent bowel cancer in everyone.

  • Michelle
    6 April 2016

    What rubbish, I weigh 10 stone and I am 5’9″ I have never smoked or drank an eat a high fibre low fat low meat diet, I walk the dog for 90 mins per day on top of a,9 hour shift on my feet all day but I was still told in Jan this year I had a tumour
    By the way I am 52 and I had breast cancer 5 years ago so all of your stereo typing is rubish

  • Dennis Bates
    6 April 2016

    This article is well organised, clearly written and potentially very valuable to people who are concerned about this dangerous and quite common form of cancer. It is also balanced in that it makes clear that most of the symptoms taken individually may have other causes. The tone is positive not alarmist.

  • Christine Magasiner
    6 April 2016

    This article has been helpful to me. I am 81, my husband is 91. We are relatively healthy as far as we know, but we do eat processed meat on a daily basis in our lunchtime sandwiches. I think we are going to change the habit. Tough, as we love ham.

    Comments

  • Laurette
    28 April 2016

    Very Informative and clearly done with beautiful and honest graphics. (I’m a Psychologist and a Statistician so I know what appeals visually to people).
    The most important thing about this site is that it is inspiring people to get off their duffs and make improvements to their lifestyle.

  • Anne Kirby
    28 April 2016

    I had bowel cancer in 2008 and was extremely lucky to survive as the tumour had almost blocked my bowel. After several visits to my GP,over a five month period, he still insisted it was irritable bowel, even after mentioning my brother died from bowel cancer. After an emergency operation to remove half of my colon and six months of chemo I am now eight years on and feel very lucky, but feel my GP should have looked for bowel cancer much sooner.

  • Geoff Garnett
    27 April 2016

    Excellent site – clear and succinct

  • Nick Peel
    27 April 2016

    Hi Jayne,
    Thanks for your comment.
    In 2003, an advisory group called the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) recommended that bowel cancer screening should be offered to eligible people between the ages of 50-74.
    But it’s up to each individual government from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to decide what age group to offer screening to.
    More than eight in 10 cases of bowel cancer in the UK are diagnosed in people over the age of 60. And this will be taken into account when deciding where to set the age brackets for bowel screening.
    A new screening test called bowel scope is also being introduced in England. This will be offered to people at age 55.
    You can find out more information about bowel screening on our website.
    Best wishes,
    Nick, Cancer Research UK

  • David Bevan
    27 April 2016

    ‘The number of UK cases that can be prevented’ is an important statistic for UK public health. But the risk reduction for the individual person achieved by these ‘small changes’…is small. Even added together, they do not reduce the individual’s risk of bowel cancer as much as a screening colonoscopy performed every ten years after the age of sixty. But that of course would require significant funding…

  • Jayne
    26 April 2016

    Why does bowel screening begin at 50 in Scotland, but we have to wait until 60 in England? Surely we should all be treated equally.

  • Diana Macdonald
    26 April 2016

    Very informative. I had a tumour and part of my large bowel removed twenty years ago. Sadly I reported all my symptoms to my GP very early but they failed to diagnose it until several months later when it had grown horribly big and I was really ill. Doctors tend to look for bleeding or diarrhoea and I had severe constipation and tiredness. Please push for tests – I didn’t.

  • Mrs Carol Hall
    26 April 2016

    This is an excellent informative article! My husband had bowel cancer 4 years ago! He was caught early, had an operation, as is now clear! So all help telling everyone what to do to avoid risks is excellent!!

  • Laura
    25 April 2016

    And don’t forget to report strange bowel symptoms to your GP – this is no time to be inhibited. It could save your life.

  • Eileen
    25 April 2016

    Interesting article. I would also urge people to carry out the bowel screening if a kit pops through the letterbox. Mine came back abnormal and I had to repeat it twice more. It was a bit worrying but the follow-up colonoscopy which was carried out at a hospital showed I had polyps. These were removed from my colon and bowel, in a short one day visit, not too uncomfortable. I will now be checked every three years. I am glad I didn’t ignore the test and it is so easy to do.

  • Sam Macdonald
    24 April 2016

    This is a very helpful and well laid out article/blog. The simple way to look a lot of the healthiest options in terms of diet is to eat things in their most natural forms ie unprocessed meats and breads with visible grains and fruit and vegetables with their skins on.

  • Sally Jolley
    24 April 2016

    Very good thank you

  • Sheila Rogers
    24 April 2016

    I had bowel cancer in September 2014. Mine was caught early and had not spread. I had tumour and part of my colon removed. I’m now on 5 year follow up plan. I’m one of the lucky ones.

  • Kim
    24 April 2016

    Small changes I must eat more brown bread, I am lucky I don’t like processed meat but I do like a bit of beef and red wine.

  • MrDavid John Thomas
    22 April 2016

    In my case I can’t exercise , I’ve got an enlarged prostrate,I’ve also got cpld so I have trouble breathing, and I’m overweight , and I’ve got diabetes type 2 on insulin ,and have a very bad hip ,so I can’t walk more than 10 yards before I’m out of breath.

  • Kate Fraser
    22 April 2016

    Test showed cancer in one of my work colleagues and pretty much saved his life. He has no sign now & gets regular checks. Everyone should do it! Hubby & myself take part every 2 years without any problem so far. Better informed than not I say!!

  • Anbe Pearce
    22 April 2016

    Excellent advice which I took 7 years ago until present day. I’m grateful for the 2 yearly screening programme and cannot understand why people ignore it.

  • Helen
    22 April 2016

    Very helpful thank you

  • Karen Tompkins
    13 April 2016

    I think its a good article and informative but needs to be out there in leaflets given by GP’s to all patients regardless of age. If a GP diagnoses IBS then the Test should be offered regardless of age and even an Ultrasound as well.

  • Roselynn Bellamy
    12 April 2016

    I think this is very informative but think that tests should be available to people younger than 55. My husband has bowel cancer and he is currently In treatment. I have had IBS so a lot of the symptoms are similar and I feel that the test should be available to patients who have IBS earlier .

  • Mrs J Christie-Macallan
    11 April 2016

    A very good report very informative. Early diagnosis is very important. I know it happened to me and I have beaten it.

  • Shirley Morse
    10 April 2016

    A good article with sensible advice.

  • S Chaplain
    9 April 2016

    Very helpful advice,laid out clearly and in a memorable way.

  • Yasmin
    8 April 2016

    Great article.

  • Kathryn Riddick
    8 April 2016

    Very useful information and the emphasis on starting with small changes will hopefully encourage more people to try and alter their lifestyle.

  • Anna Tingle
    8 April 2016

    This is very helpful and clear advice

  • Sara
    8 April 2016

    Great article. This

  • Jan Brookes
    8 April 2016

    Thank you. Very easy to understand and read.

  • Vivienne Clarke
    8 April 2016

    Very informative, giving good sound and sensible advice on prevention measures by taking simple steps.

  • Denis Woolmard
    8 April 2016

    Very easy to read and understand. Some of the suggestions are obvious like the damage smoking does. Thankyou for the information.

  • Jayne longden
    8 April 2016

    It’s great to be able to access this information so easily, Also it’s way to read and understand thank you .

  • Brian Flynn
    8 April 2016

    Very informative Exellent presentation easy to follow

  • Christine Parker
    8 April 2016

    Excellent article

  • Pam
    8 April 2016

    Very interesting and easy to read. It is always good to keep up to date with new findings.

  • Rosemary McGhie
    8 April 2016

    Excellent gives you the potential risk factors without being over alarmist

  • Colin Trott
    7 April 2016

    Keeping abreast of research and ways of combatting types of cancer is essential. Your articles fit the bill exactly with general life improvement suggestions and good information for discussion and decision taking.

  • linda offen
    7 April 2016

    The more info the better. Education is all.

  • Nigel Appleford
    7 April 2016

    I agree with Paul and A Hunt, the fish symbol is misleading. Does no one check for mistakes before publication?

  • Jane Thwaite
    7 April 2016

    Please continue the stick tests after 74 automatically.

  • Christine
    7 April 2016

    good article very informative and helpful

  • Gillian Wightwick
    7 April 2016

    Why stop screening at 74??? Seems like age discrimination to me (about to be 80).
    Two friends who died of, bowel cancer could hardly have had a better diet:: home-made, wholemeal, veg and fruit oriented, etc etc. So please avoid giving the impression that this is yet another cancer or disease which is under our control via diet and lifestyle. It makes sufferers (aka victims) seem blameworthy, when maybe it’s in the stars, or somewhere.

  • Pierre Vantyghem
    7 April 2016

    Early diagnosis is vital so encouraging people to go to their doctors is a must to give a
    good survival chance. Ignoring systems and being afraid to go to the doctors in case
    you might be told you have cancer is something holding some people back .A TV advertising programme to show a lack of courage in going to the doctors would I am sure be benifical.

  • Kate
    7 April 2016

    Good advice. Checking your body should be the 7th way to prevent, or slow down the growth of any type of cancer.

  • Ian White
    7 April 2016

    My wife unfortunately contracted metastatic bowel cancer even though she had adhered to all six of your recommendations all her life!! It was also not detected by her routine NHS stool tests which she always did. By the time she developed symptoms because it had spread to her ovaries it was too late to eradicate it completely and so following a major operation she has had to endure repeated chemotherapy and other treatments for more than three years. This is not to suggest that the six recommendations are not very worthwhile but only that they will not nessarily prevent bowel cancer in everyone.

  • Claire Westwood
    7 April 2016

    As someone who has been found to have late stage bowel cancer at the age of 58, it is not helpful to read that chances of survival are lower. Having had no symptoms apart from a bit of heartburn and 3 admissions to A & E and finally being diagnosed with a partial obstruction it was discovered on a ct scan. So it doesn’t always follow that you have to have ‘changes’

  • Eileen Burns
    7 April 2016

    Very good article. Diverticulitus can also give the same symptons so it is important you check with your GP to put your mind at rest. Worry when you have something to worry about.

  • Rosemary Combe
    7 April 2016

    Why stop the bowel test at 74? After that we have to remember to ask for it. People can be active and generally fit after that age.

  • Helen
    7 April 2016

    It seems wrong to give people false hope by implying that if they obey every command on that list, they’re safe from bowel cancer: just ask my grandmother. Oh no, too late, you can’t, because that active, slightly underweight, non-smoking teetotaller who lived mostly on the produce of a large garden and an allotment died of bowel cancer!

  • Maureen Rees
    7 April 2016

    I donate to cancer research. My best friend aged 70 had an abnormal bowel screening (hidden blood). She is also anaemic; breathless and has to attend the loo regularly, with loose stools, throughout the day. Because she is so tiny a colonoscopy could not be performed and a cat scan revealed all clear. However no answer has been given for the anaemia; breathlessness; indigestion; hidden blood and change in bowel habit. Clearly she is relieved but also concerned that no definite answers have be given. How reliable is a CAT scan please ?

  • Vicky Osborne
    7 April 2016

    My Mum did all of the things you’re supposed to do, including taking a bowel screening test which came back negative. She was diagnosed early with bowl cancer, had an operation to remove the tumour and then had chemo for 6 months to make sure all the cancerours cells had gone. The chemo didn’t stop the cancer from spreading to her liver and in June last year she was given 18 months to live. She died before Christmas, not even making it to 6 months. She was 68 and had been incredibly fit and healthy all her life. Sometimes you can do everything right and still be so unlucky. I say do what you enjoy, regardless of whether it’s ‘good for you’ or not. Just enjoy the life you have.

  • A Hunt
    7 April 2016

    First thing I noticed was a fish picture on the “Eat less processed and red meat” advice balloon chart ….better to show sausages etc surely when we are encouraged to eat more FISH I see Paul said this too. What about some chat on keeping body less acidic too ! A Hospital nurse knew nothing about this, yet I have read much on this and it’s another way of showing how over sugar intake needs major alteration..

  • Brian Johnson
    7 April 2016

    Different people respond in different ways. All the six points are helpful in their own ways but the key idea, I think, is moderation in all things! The most important point stated is ‘and if you notice something unusual, talk to your doctor’. I did just this (haemorrhoids) 15 years ago, was diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer and am here to tell the tale!

  • Aaron
    7 April 2016

    David and Michelle – you can do things to make cancer less LIKELY, but there are no known ways to prevent it 100%. This article is just helping people to make it less likely that they get cancer!

  • Paul
    7 April 2016

    Why is there a fish icon, on the graphic for red meat? Do you mean red fish as well?

  • Mark
    7 April 2016

    David

    They can’t. The article addresses known risk factors that they estimate could help prevent half of the cases of bowel cancer, so half would still happen even if we all took their advice. There are still other risk factors needing to be found and more work to be done to have a chance of preventing every case or at least spotting it early but reducing by half is a good start.

  • Angela Lauder
    7 April 2016

    More knowledge like this is very helpful. I think it’s people having confidence to go to the doctors early. And the doctors being sensitive on any cancer systems.

  • Mrs D. J. Clay
    7 April 2016

    Very interesting and helpful information , although I’ve had cancer twice I’m very aware of the dangers

  • David
    7 April 2016

    my brother in law has just had a bowel cancer operated on, thankfully they got it all.
    but hes been a veggie all his life so he dont eat meat hes a healthy weight etc.. only thing is on this list he drinks alcohol within reason, so explain why he go it?

  • Elaine Anderson
    7 April 2016

    The advice on reducing bowel cancer is very difficult to follow if you are also type 2 diabetic as most of the alternative foods recommended are a no-no. Beans and pulses, for example, make my sugar levels rocket.

  • James
    7 April 2016

    Michelle (April 6th), I think you misunderstand the point of this article, which aims to highlight important risk factors associated with bowel cancer. The article does not purport to be an exhaustive list of all risk factors, or claim that addressing these highlighted risk factors will definitively prevent bowel cancer in everyone.

  • Michelle
    6 April 2016

    What rubbish, I weigh 10 stone and I am 5’9″ I have never smoked or drank an eat a high fibre low fat low meat diet, I walk the dog for 90 mins per day on top of a,9 hour shift on my feet all day but I was still told in Jan this year I had a tumour
    By the way I am 52 and I had breast cancer 5 years ago so all of your stereo typing is rubish

  • Dennis Bates
    6 April 2016

    This article is well organised, clearly written and potentially very valuable to people who are concerned about this dangerous and quite common form of cancer. It is also balanced in that it makes clear that most of the symptoms taken individually may have other causes. The tone is positive not alarmist.

  • Christine Magasiner
    6 April 2016

    This article has been helpful to me. I am 81, my husband is 91. We are relatively healthy as far as we know, but we do eat processed meat on a daily basis in our lunchtime sandwiches. I think we are going to change the habit. Tough, as we love ham.