Bowel cancer: Simple food swap could lower your risk of the ‘common’ diagnosis by 16%

GMB : Adela Roberts discusses her bowel cancer diagnosis

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Bowel cancer describes cancer that begins in your large bowel. Based on the exact location, it’s also called colon or rectal cancer. Here are the diet choices that can cut your risk of this cancer as well as the warning signs to spot. 

The bowel is the part of your digestive system which plays a role in breaking down food and getting rid of the waste.

The good news is that bowel cancer can be treatable and curable.

As early diagnosis can save lives, being able to spot the first signs could be crucial.

However, new research has identified diet habits that could reduce your risk altogether.

The study published in BMC Medicine found that low meat-eaters, fish-eaters and vegetarians had a lower risk of all cancers.

The good news is that if you’re not ready to make the full leap to a plant-based diet just yet, swapping meat for fish could also be effective.

The study shares that fish-eaters had a 16 percent lower risk of bowel cancer.

And those who cut down on meat twice weekly saw their risk fall by 10 percent.

This new research looked at 472,377 participants from the UK Biobank.

These volunteers were then divided into four groups based on their meat intake.

The groups were: regular and low meat-eaters, fish-eaters and vegetarians.

This study was the first of its kind because it considered the link between diet and specific cancers instead of overall cancer diagnosis.

Apart from bowel cancer, men who were vegetarians or fish-eaters had a lower risk of prostate cancer as well. 

However, the study reports there might be some limitations to their findings.

The researchers said: “Although there were many cancer cases accrued during the follow-up period, these analyses may still be underpowered to detect moderate associations due to the relatively low numbers of cancer cases amongst vegetarians and fish-eaters in this cohort.”

The study concluded their findings might be a result of dietary factors or other lifestyle habits such as smoking.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

The NHS shares that the main symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • Persistent blood in your poo 
  • Persistent change in your bowel habits (having to poo more, or poo that is more runny)
  • Persistent lower tummy pain
  • Bloating or discomfort (always caused by eating)
  • Unintentional weight loss.

They explain that the symptoms “can be subtle and do not necessarily make you feel ill”.

It could be worth trying some treatments to see if your symptoms improve, the health service advises.

However, you need to see a GP if your symptoms persist for three weeks or more.

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