Bowel cancer rates are rising among young adults in Australia. Discussions around how we can reduce our risk of bowel cancer are important ones for all ages.

Limit alcohol consumption

  • Bowel cancer risk increases significantly when 2 or more drinks are consumed per day.

Maintain a healthy weight

  • Risk of bowel cancer rises with increased body fatness, as marked by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference or waist-hip ratio.

Consume a healthy diet rich in whole foods, fibre and dairy

  • Consuming wholegrains and foods containing dietary fibre decreases the risk of bowel cancer.
  • Consuming 400 grams of dairy products per day decreases risk by 15%.

Limit red meat and avoid processed meats

  • Eating too much red meat (e.g. beef, lamb, pork, goat) has been linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
  • Eating processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami and some sausages has been strongly linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
  • If you eat red meat, limit the amount to no more than about three portions per week. Three portions is equivalent to about 350-500 grams cooked weight.

Do regular exercise

  • Recreational physical activity can reduce colon (not rectal) cancer by 16%.

Quit smoking

  • Smoking two packs per day increases the risk of bowel cancer by around 40% and nearly doubles the risk of bowel cancer death.

Do your bowel cancer screening test

  • If you are aged between 45-49 years old and would like to do a screening test, please let your doctor know.

There are probably not too many surprises here, living a healthy lifestyle reduces your risk of many diseases. Life is busy, but making small changes to your diet or lifestyle can offer you big benefits down the track.

Data from Bowel Cancer Australia.

Disclaimer – This article is for general information and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Always consult a registered health professional regarding any health-related diagnosis or treatment options.