bowel cancer prevention

7 Tips On Maintaining A Healthy Bowel

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

“Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer – every half an hour someone dies of the disease. Each year around 16,000 people die of bowel cancer, but it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.”

Beating Bowel Cancer


So what preventative measures we can take to reduce our risk of developing the disease? Here are our top 7 picks:


1. Don’t Smoke


Smoking not only increases the chance of developing lung cancer and coronary related illnesses, but also bowel cancer. By quitting smoking, you can reduce your risk of developing many types of cancer, while at the same time benefiting from improved general health and wellbeing. For help and advice on how to quit, check out our blog article on Becoming A “Proudquitter”.  


2. Drink Less


Drinking large amounts of alcohol or binge drinking has been linked with increasing the risk of developing bowel cancer. People who drink 2-3 glasses a day increase their risk by 21% and those who have more than 4 drinks a day by 52%. So, if you want to reduce your risk, you may want to consider reducing your alcohol intake.


3. Spot The Symptoms


Bowel cancer has several warning signs and is one of the easiest cancers to pick up on. The three main symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Blood in the faeces
  • A change in bowel habit including looser and more frequent faeces
  • Abdominal pain

It is more important to have an increased awareness of these signs as you get older as the vast majority of bowel cancer cases occur in the over 60’s. It’s also important to seek further medical advice if symptoms persist in spite of simple treatments.


4. Eat A Healthy Diet


Diet is a fundamental factor in maintaining a healthy bowel. Research suggests that key foods and drink associated with keeping your bowel healthy include green tea, turmeric and blackberries. Oily fish and a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is also really important. It is recommended to avoid eating red, cured, smoked and salted meats in large volumes. The recommended weekly allowance is no more than two 115g portions.


5. Exercise Regularly


Regular exercise is really important for overall health and general wellbeing. There is strong evidence to suggest that those who adopt regular exercise and move vigorously on a regular basis greatly diminish their chances of developing bowel cancer, as opposed to those who lead sendentary lifestyles. It is recommended that the average adult exercises for at least two and a half hours each week.


6. Maintain A Healthy Weight


Being overweight or obese also increases the risk of developing bowel cancer. By ensuring a balanced diet, eating smaller portions and maintaining a regular exercise regime will help in maintaining a healthier weight in the long term.


7. Get Screened


Bowel cancer screening is available to everyone between the ages of 60-74 who is registered with a GP. It is strongly recommended to take advantage of this opportunity as although screening cannot prevent bowel cancer, it can help in detecting it an earlier stage making it easier to treat. For more information on bowel cancer screening, talk to your GP.