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.

Massage: Remedial vs Deep Tissue

Liz Darrington, Massage Therapist

Every body can benefit from massage therapy but for those who are particularly active or play sports, the terms remedial massage or deep tissue massage are commonly thrown around to assist with muscle recovery and soreness. But which one is best for you?

Remedial massage focuses on treating a specific problem area often caused by muscle tension, soft tissue injury, and/or postural imbalance. Trigger point therapy is used to apply sustained pressure to the deeper muscle layers in order to relieve pain, while joint mobilisation techniques and facilitated stretching help to improve range of motion.

Ailments commonly treated by remedial massage include neck and back pain, migraine and tension headaches, repetitive strain injury, tendonitis (e.g. tennis elbow, carpel tunnel syndrome, frozen shoulder), sciatica, hamstring injuries, shin splints, and whiplash.

A treatment plan will be developed at your first appointment. This will be reviewed with each follow-up appointment based on your overall improvement and progress.

Deep tissue massage is great for those seeking relief from generalised muscle tension.  It uses very firm pressure in the form of lengthening and cross-fibre manipulations to access the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissues. At times it can feel uncomfortable, and thus requires good communication between client and therapist to ensure pain threshold is not exceeded.

In addition to relieving muscle tension, deep tissue massage is also good for breaking-up scar tissue and adhesions (those “knotted” bands of muscle), improving joint mobility, increasing blood flow, and improving athletic recovery and performance.

​If you’re still not sure which massage type would be best, don’t forget that your massage will be tailored to your body’s specific needs. Chat with your massage therapist about any concerns and what activities you do and they will determine the best massage type for you.

Massage prices are:
Half hour treatment – $50
One hour treatment – $90
One and a half hour treatment – $120

Call (02) 6652 5322 to book your next massage.

Calcium: Are You Getting Enough?

Dr Rosie Ross

With alarming statistics on falls and their sometimes devastating consequences, it’s clear to see bone health isn’t taken as seriously as it should be.

An important part of bone health is getting enough calcium. Calcium combines with other minerals to form the hard crystals that give your bones their strength and structure yet less than half of all Aussies are actually getting enough!

Think of your bones as a calcium bank. If you don’t eat enough to replace what you naturally lose then the body reacts by ‘withdrawing’ calcium from your ‘bone bank’ and depositing it into the bloodstream (calcium is also essential for the healthy functioning of the heart, muscles, blood and nerves). More withdrawals than deposits = a decline in bone density and significantly increases your chances of osteoporosis.

Regardless of whether you eat low fat, gluten free, vegetarian or vegan, calcium intake can be achieved through diet and is always better than taking supplements. Need supplements? Chat with your pharmacist about how to take calcium supplements properly and discuss any side effects.

Osteoporosis Australia recommends 3-5 serves of calcium rich food daily with the average adult needing around 1,000mg of calcium per day. For most Aussies, dairy foods are the main source of calcium and an easy way to obtain adequate calcium. Milk, yoghurt and most cheeses are particularly high in calcium and can provide over a third of your recommended dietary intake in one serve. People who dislike or are intolerant to dairy products require more serves of other high calcium-containing foods; for example, calcium rich vegetables, tinned sardines or tinned salmon (including the bones), calcium rich nuts and fruits, or calcium fortified foods.

For a comprehensive list of calcium rich foods, check out the Osteoporosis Australia website.

It is worth noting than Vitamin D also plays a big part in calcium absorption and not getting enough sun exposure, excessive caffeine and alcohol, certain medicines and some medical conditions like coeliac disease can inhibit your calcium absorption. These should be discussed with your doctor.

Be sure to check out Nicola’s suggestion of Sardine & Almond Salad for a calcium rich meal idea or check out this delicious looking list of calcium rich dinner ideas!

Follow Dr Rosie Ross on LinkedIn.