54% of bowel cancers are preventable*, suggesting lifestyle can play a big part. The panel chat about the importance of a healthy lifestyle such as maintaining a healthy weight and the benefits of regular exercise, as well as the links between bowel cancer and the consumption of processed and red meats.
Lauren Swankie, National Cancer Campaign Manager
Diet and exercise are beneficial, but not just for bowel cancer, for all cancers. There is some significant evidence on the risk associated with bowel cancer and high consumption of processed and red meats.
I think that’s where my biggest shock came really because I consider myself to have been quite fit, quite health conscious. I’ve never drunk excessively, I’ve never smoked, I’ve been conscious of having my fruit and veg every day. Here I am five years down the line; I’ve had bowel cancer twice.
I ran a marathon 16 weeks after finishing chemotherapy. After having major surgery to have my colon removed, I ran a 10K within three months and another marathon ten months after that. All of that happened I think, because I was fit beforehand.
Diet and exercise is absolutely key and helps me mentally as well. My running is a bit of a stress buster.
If you know that you’ve got perhaps two relatives that have had a bowel cancer diagnosis, or there is a long history of cancer in your family, then you should look into the genetic risk, because that could help you get an early diagnosis, or make sure that you’re monitored for the risks that might be in your family.
Interestingly enough, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, my dad, in his mid-eighties, was then diagnosed with bowel cancer. We were then tested for Lynch syndrome, but there are no genetic mistakes.
It is really important to be aware of what is normal for you, not just in your toilet habits, but for everything. For your body, know what’s right for you.