Reducing the risk of bowel cancer
The best place to start is with the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines which advise that to keep health risks, including cancer, from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it's best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis
If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days a week.
The thought that a drink a day can potentially increase your risk of bowel cancer is a sobering one, but, luckily, changing the way you drink can help to reduce that risk. If you’re often tempted by the idea of a drink at the end of a long day, why not try some of our tips for cutting down at home? Follow our practical steps to take action, and have a think about whether you’re ready to cut down.
I'm ready to cut down
However, just as alcohol is potentially only one contributory factor for bowel cancer, simply reducing alcohol intake is not enough to remove the risk of developing it. Professor Robert Steele, a bowel cancer expert, recommends a diet high in fibre and low in red meat. This, along with regular exercise, should help to maintain a healthy weight, which is key to protecting your body from the risk of bowel cancer.
Also, if you smoke, try to give up, not only is smoking linked to bowel cancer, it can also cause lung cancer, mouth cancer and many other life-threatening illnesses.
Finally, don’t forget to take the opportunity to be screened for bowel cancer. You can either complete the stool test that is sent by post (the faecal occult blood (FOB) test) or have a telescope test (bowel scope screening) using a thin tube with a camera at the end that looks inside the bowel.
Around one in 20 cases of bowel cancer (5%) occur in people who have other family members with bowel cancer7. So, if you have a history of bowel cancer in the family, it’s very important to be screened regularly, especially if you are over 60 years old.