All over the UK, normally clean-shaven men are growing a beard – and bearded men are dyeing, decorating or ditching their beards – in support of Decembeard, the Bowel Cancer UK campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Decembeard | Raising Awareness of Bowel Cancer

Decembeard, aims to help stop people dying unnecessarily from bowel cancer by asking people to raise funds towards vital research.

One in 15 men and one in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime. Nine out of every 10 new cases (94%) affect people over the age of 50, however, the disease can affect people of any age.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK but the number of people dying from the disease has fallen steadily since the 1970s which may be due to earlier diagnosis and better treatment.

You can reduce your risk of bowel cancer by taking the following simple steps to improve your diet and maintain a healthy body weight:

1. Avoid eating processed meat and limit your intake of red meat

Red meat includes beef, lamb, pork and goat. Experts advise eating no more than 500g (cooked weight) per week, which is roughly equivalent to 700g of raw meat.

As a guideline, one medium steak is around 145g and a medium pork chop is around 90g. Processed meats (bacon, ham, sausages and salami) are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives.

Burgers and minced meats that have been preserved with salt or chemicals are also categorised as processed meat.

2. Eat a high fibre diet

Fibre plays a crucial role in keeping your digestive system functioning efficiently, helping to reduce your risk of bowel cancer. You should eat at least 30g of fibre a day. A minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables is a good rule of thumb.

There are two types of fibre: insoluble fibre bulks up poo and helps to prevent constipation, while soluble fibre keeps poo soft and makes it easier to pass. Wholegrains, nuts, seeds and potatoes in skins are a good source of insoluble fibre, while oats, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and apples contain plenty of soluble fibre.

Eating a high fibre diet can also help with weight loss as high fibre foods make you feel full for longer. If you want to increase the amount of fibre in your diet, doing it gradually allows your body to adapt, particularly in the case of nuts and beans which can cause bloating or wind.

Some people with a history of bowel cancer or existing bowel conditions may not be able to tolerate certain high fibre foods. Speak to your GP, or a specialist gastroenterologist, if you are concerned.

3. Drink plenty of water

Drinking up six to eight glasses of fluid a day helps to keep you well-hydrated which is good for bowel health.

Avoid sugary drinks in favour of water or low-fat milk.

4. Maintain a healthy body weight

Around 11 out of every 100 cases of bowel cancer are linked to being overweight or obese. Your Body Mass Index will help to determine whether or not you are a healthy weight for your height.

If you have a high BMI your GP will be able to advise you on safe, healthy ways to lose weight. As a guideline, women need a daily calorie intake of 2,000 calories while for men it is 2,500.

Some simple ways to reduce your weight include keeping an eye on portion sizes and avoiding sugary drinks and high-calorie snacks such as biscuits, cakes and sweets.

Bowel Cancer Screening | Colonoscopy – London

If you are over 50, or any age and have a history of bowel cancer or bowel polyps in your family, and want to take a preventative approach to your healthcare, a colonoscopy is the most thorough test for diagnosing colorectal cancers.

GI Doctors offer private colonoscopy testing in the comfort of one of our London practices.

Contact our our team to book an appointment.

Working with a specialist that can promptly diagnose and monitor your symptoms, will give you the best chance to get back to feeling your best.