"How can I reduce my risk of bowel cancer?"
This bowel cancer awareness month, we are discussing how we can reduce our risk of developing bowel cancer.
Some factors that can’t be controlled will put people at a higher risk of bowel cancer. This includes having a family history and being older. Luckily, there are some things that we can all do to improve our bowel health.
Include a range of fruit, vegetables and wholegrain breads and cereals across the week
Eating plenty of these foods, which are high in fibre, has been shown to decrease the risk of developing bowel cancer. Eating enough fibre helps to keep bowel movements regular.
Eat a range of dairy foods across the week
Eating plenty of dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt has been linked with a lower risk of bowel cancer. They are also high in protein and other nutrients.
Stick to the alcohol guidelines
Limiting the amount of alcohol that you drink will help to reduce your risk of bowel cancer. See our blog on the alcohol guidelines here.
Choose lean meat instead of processed meats when you can
Eating processed meats, such as bacon, ham, salami and sausages, may increase the risk of bowel cancer. Instead, try to choose lean meat and poultry (such as chicken, lamb or turkey), fish or vegetarian options. These foods are also great sources of protein.
If you smoke, seek help to quit
Smoking two packs (40 cigarettes) per day increases the risk of bowel cancer by about forty per cent. You can find resources to support you to quit. Wherever possible, avoid exposure to second hand smoke.
Do a test
Eligible Australians aged 50-74 years can do a free bowel cancer screening test every two years. This test is important and is for people who have no symptoms of bowel cancer, so even if you feel well you should do it.
If you are worried about changes in your bowel habits, talk to your GP.
For more information on bowel health, please see the following Appetite for Life fact sheets: