It seems like everything causes cancer these days. Just last week there were reports citing mouthwash as a potential risk. That’s right; mouthwash! Isn’t that what we use to kill germs and keep our mouths healthy?
There’s not a day that goes by without news of something we’ve enjoyed or undertaken for years threatening to cause us harm. So, how do we know what we should and shouldn’t be doing? Well, there’s a definite difference between being paranoid and being vigilant. That’s why the entire month of April has been declared as annual Bowel Cancer Awareness Month; so that you have the facts.
We’re certainly not trying to add to your list of things to worry about, but in a health crazed society, it seems odd that few of us know anything about the fourth most common cancer in the UK. It’s true; bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer after breast, lung and prostate. This month is intended to raise awareness and money to encourage early diagnosis and treatment.
When it comes to our physical wellbeing, some things could be deemed as common sense. We all know the cardinal rules of staying healthy; eat well, drink responsibly, don’t smoke and exercise regularly. Of course, there’s no guarantee that adhering to these guidelines will protect us from illnesses such as this. However, it will dramatically reduce the risk.
It should come as no surprise that a well-balanced diet is especially important when it comes to your bowel. After all, the bowel is essential to the overall efficiency of the digestive system. We’re all aware of the part it plays in extracting nutrients and expelling waste, but do we appreciate just how important this is? It is vital to give it a helping hand by making sure that we eat a diet rich in fibre. Not only does this ensure the smooth running in our digestive system, it also makes bowel movements all the more comfortable. Drink plenty of water too; fibre needs to absorb water so that it can work effectively.
Speaking of diet, did you know that there is believed to be a link between bowel cancer and eating large quantities of red or processed meat? Studies suggest that we should eat no more that 500g of red meat per week, saving those processed meats that we all hate to love for special occasions .
We all know that exercise is good for us, that’s a given! Yet it can sometimes be difficult to tear ourselves away from that incredibly comfortable couch, particularly after a long, hard day. So, for those who need that little bit of extra motivation, consider this; it is thought that exercise can reduce the risk of developing cancer in the large bowel by up to a quarter. There’s no need for Mr. Motivator with statistics like that.
Although the exact cause of bowel cancer is unclear, there are some ‘groups’ likely to be at greater risk than others. 40,000+ people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. Of them, 95% are aged 50 or over, with men being thought to be more in danger than women. However, there are still approximately 2000 people under the age of 50 diagnosed each year. Those that are obese, suffer/have suffered from any conditions that affect the colon (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and smokers are all potentially more likely to develop the disease.
So, now we’ve discussed the dangers, let’s take a look at the early symptoms to watch out for. Due to the part the bowel plays in digestion, it seems inevitable that any problem is likely to result in a change to our ‘regular’ routine. In some cases the stool may be a lot ‘looser’ when we do go. Other common symptoms include blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, extreme and unexplained tiredness, or a pain/lump in the stomach. If you do notice any of these symptoms it is imperative that you seek medical advice.
So, you may be wondering what all this has to do with Kegel8 and, indeed, your pelvic floor. Well, although our units are contraindicated for those undergoing cancer treatments, we design and develop all of our products with your physical and emotional wellbeing in mind. Rest assured; that desire to support and help people doesn’t end with our products.
Unfortunately, having a strong pelvic floor won’t prevent you from getting cancer. And you may think that if you are diagnosed with something so devastating, it will be the least of your worries. However, the symptoms alone can be incredibly distressing. Those suffering with, being treated for or even those that have been operated on for bowel cancer are likely to experience involuntary passing of wind, diarrhoea, constipation, frequency, leakages and in some cases may not be able to fully empty the rectum. As the tumour grows the symptoms will become more severe. Although this cannot be prevented, manual Kegels are a good way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This will help to combat the issues that are being faced and in some cases alleviate them slightly, particularly when trying to regain strength after surgery.
So, now we’ve done our bit to raise awareness for Bowel Cancer UK, it’s time to do your bit! So, see how you can get involved by visiting the website.
Now, on yer bike! Or, indeed, however else you plan to raise awareness or funds this April...
 Bingham SA et al (2003) Dietary fibre in food and protection against colorectal cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC): an observational study. The Lancet 361, 91496-1500.
 Friedenreich C et al (2006) Physical Activity and Risk of Colon and Rectal Cancers: The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 15, 2398-2407.
 World Cancer Research Fund & American Institute for Cancer Research (2007) Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a global perspective. Washington: WCRF International.
 Bowel cancer statistics: Cancer Research UK Cancerresearchuk.org. 2014. Bowel cancer statistics: Cancer Research UK. [Online] Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/types/bowel/ [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].
 Physical activity and cancer: stats and evidence: Cancer Research UK Cancerresearchuk.org. 2014. Physical activity and cancer: stats and evidence: Cancer Research UK. [Online] Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/healthyliving/exerciseandactivity/howdoweknow/physical-activity-and-cancer-the-evidence [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].