Reducing Your Risk of Bowel Cancer

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and like all cancers, there’s no sure fire way to stop Bowel Cancer ever happening to you. But there are modifiable risk factors with bowel cancer that you can change starting today.

Below are eight tips courtesy of Bowel Cancer Australia regarding diet, lifestyle choices and screening that can reduce your odds of being one of 5,375 Australians who will lose their battle with bowel cancer this year alone.

1. Get Moving

Over half of all men and women over the age of 55 are insufficiently active. Being physically active not only helps with weight management but decreases the risk of colon cancer by 16%. Aim to be physically active where the heart rate is elevated, every day for 30 minutes or more.

2. Consume More Wholegrains

Of all the grain foods consumed, only a third of them are wholegrains that are high in fibre. Eating 3 servings of wholegrains a day, such as brown rice or wholemeal bread, can reduce your risk of bowel cancer by 17%.

3. Eat More Dairy

A staggering amount of men and women are not having enough serves of dairy each day. Not only is dairy great for bone strength but consuming dairy products and taking calcium supplements decreases the risk of bowel cancer by 13%. If you’re intolerant or don’t eat dairy, consider consulting a nutritionist regarding alternative sources of calcium appropriate for you.

4. Get Screened

Did you know that only 40% of people invited to participate in the tax payer funded National Bowel Cancer Screening Program actually do? The fact is those participating in bowel cancer screening programs reduce their risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16% compared to those who didn’t. Removing bowel polyps larger than 1 centimetre (cm) may lower the risk of bowel cancer as they’re unable to become precancerous and develop into bowel cancer in the future.

5. Cut Back The Meat Intake

Limit your red meat amount to 500 grams cooked per week and avoid processed meat if you can. Eating processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami and some sausages has been strongly linked with an increased risk of bowel cancer.

6. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

Consuming approximately two or more alcoholic drinks per day increases your bowel cancer risk. Consider having alcohol free days and limit your alcohol intake to 2 drinks or less per day.

7. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese increases bowel cancer risk. Monitor your body mass index (BMI), waist circumference or waist-hip ratio and keep them within healthy ranges to reduce your bowel cancer risk.

8. Quit Smoking

No good ever comes from smoking and it’ll be no surprise that smoking increases bowel cancer risk. For heavy smokers, smoking 40 cigarettes (two packs) per day increases the risk of bowel cancer by around 40% and nearly doubles the risk of bowel cancer death. Best to ditch the cigarettes for good and watch your health improve in all areas.

Need a little extra motivation to make these lifestyle changes? Why not check out Bowel Cancer Australia’s 12 Week Nutrition & Lifestyle Challenge to help you!

If you’ve had recent changes in bowel habits, noticed bleeding in your stools or other symptoms, please make an appointment with your Northside Health GP. Appointments can be made online or via the HotDoc app.

Remedial Massage: Beneficial For More Than Just Relaxation

Massage Therapist, Rachael Trebon

Many people perceive massage as a luxury to increase relaxation. While this is an excellent benefit of massage therapy, there are many other circumstances where massage can contribute to one’s wellbeing. An experienced Remedial Massage Therapist can make a significant difference when treating clients with recurring or acute complaints, degenerative disease, and many common ailments and conditions.

In my clinic I see many people who work all day at computers, spend a lot of time driving, or work manual labouring jobs. As a result I often see migraines, headaches, and neck tension as a primary complaint. By working directly on the affected muscle groups and surrounding areas headaches and neck tension can often lessen dramatically or resolve altogether. Massage is also helpful in managing wrist and arm pain due to constant work at computers. Teaching clients about better posture, stretches, and tips on how to maintain a better working position will help the client maintain the results. Regular massage also helps these issues from recurring.


Pregnancy is a time of dramatic change in a woman’s body. This can lead to back and hip pain, neck pain and swelling in her legs. Massage is a great way to help manage these issues. It can relieve some of the common aches and pains, and improve her comfort level resulting in better sleep. As massage increases relaxation, I often find a reduction in stress and an improvement in mood with my pregnant clients.

It is important to find a therapist who is trained in pregnancy massage. A knowledgeable therapist will know which pressure points and areas to avoid during pregnancy, as well as which aromatherapy oils are contraindicated. Therapists who treat pregnant women should know how to support the changing body and often will have special pillows and bolsters to help the mother lay comfortably.

Until recently many people thought that massage could help spread cancer around the body. Not only has this been shown to be incorrect, but Oncology Massage has been proven to reduce pain, lower anxiety and depression, aid in treating insomnia and fatigue, as well as help with nausea. Massage after a cancer diagnosis can provide the client with an hour of care and peace in a time of uncertainty. Oncology Massage can be received before, during or after chemotherapy treatment has finished. Following surgery or radiation there are time considerations, but it is worth a discussion with a qualified to therapist to learn what options are available. As with pregnancy, it is incredibly important to find a Massage Therapist who has had specific training in Oncology Massage or Lymphatic Drainage. Cancer treatments create special considerations and it is important for the therapist to understand the precautions.

Clients with diseases such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis also benefit greatly from Remedial Massage Therapy. Although it can’t treat the disease directly, it can help with many symptoms of chronic disease. Massage can help with muscle spasms and alleviate pain. It increases circulation and can improve sleep by increasing overall relaxation. Massage can also help decrease depression and anxiety which is common in clients with degenerative diseases.

Remedial Massage is a wonderful addition to a health care plan. There are benefits for most daily, chronic and situational ailments If you do some research and ask friends, family, and health care providers who they recommend, you can find a therapist to suit most bodywork needs.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations, to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research. 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and the second most common cancer to cause death in women with 12 Australian women dying every day from a women’s cancer. Survival rates continue to improve in Australia with 89 out of every 100 women (Cancer Australia) diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now surviving five or more years beyond diagnosis. Advancements in breast cancer research and prevention have caused this survival rate increase.


Be Breast Aware

Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease. Remember you don’t need to be an expert or use a special technique to check your breasts.

Changes to look for include:

  • new lump or lumpiness, especially if it’s only in one breast
  • change in the size or shape of your breast
  • change to the nipple, such as crustingulcerredness or inversion
  • nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
  • change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling
  • an unusual pain that doesn’t go away.

Most changes aren’t due to breast cancer but it’s important to see your doctor without delay if you notice any of these changes.


What Can I Do?

The money you raise helps the charity of your choice fight cancer through prevention programs, support services and world-class cancer research. Here’s how you can get involved and help:


  • Donate directly to breast cancer research organisations.
  • Host a pink ribbon event or Girl’s Night In event. See their websites for event and fundraising ideas.
  • Buy Pink Ribbon merchandise.


How does it help?

Every donation, big or small, helps women fighting this disease. Donations help provide information, tools, support and financial assistance to those undergoing treatment as well as fund studies and further research into breast cancer.


Northside Health has a number of doctors specialising in Women’s Health to help you with breast checks. Please call 02 6652 5322 to make an appointment.