#IBSAWARENESS month: Red Flags for Bowel Cancer

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What are the red flags for Bowel cancer? In the third installment of our blog series to support #IBSAwareness month, Just For Tummies Founder Linda Booth tells us how significant Bowel Cancer is and how to spot it. Read on to know what to look for and how to reduce the risks!



No one wants to look down the toilet and see blood in the bowl. However, it is more common than you think and it doesn't mean that you have bowel cancer. You may have haemorrhoids (a pile), or colitis (inflammation of the colon). However, you may have a colon polyp that is bleeding and this can be cancer or a pre-cursor to cancer so it is very important to get this 'red flag'checked by your GP. It's even more important to get symptoms checked if you are over 50 or if you've had a close family member that's had bowel cancer in the past. These variables put you more at risk so please get checked out.

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, as well as IBS Awareness Month. Both of the UK's bowel cancer charities, Beating Bowel Cancer and Bowel Cancer UK will soon be launching their campaigns to raise more awareness around the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer, as well as what you can do to reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK after lung cancer. Bowel cancer kills more people that breast, prostate and cervical cancer put together. Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer and every 30 minutes someone dies from it. If caught early enough around 90% of bowel cancers can be treated successfully, and the prognosis is good.

As I mentioned above, blood in your poo is a 'red flag' for bowel cancer. Here are a few more 'red flags' to watch out for and that need checking by your GP:


• A change in your bowel movements, either sudden onset diarrhoea or sudden onset constipation
• Rapid, unexplained weight loss
• Chronic, unexplained fatigue
• Able to feel a palpable mass in the abdomen
• Pain in the rectum or abdomen
• A straining, full feeling in the rectum

Although there are no known risks for developing bowel cancer, we do know that diet, lifestyle, family history and age can affect your chances of developing it, and:
• High consumption of red and processed meat
• High consumption of saturated fats
• Smoking
• Inactivity
• Being overweight
• Over 4 units of alcohol per day
• If you have a close relative with bowel cancer
• If you have diabetes, crohns disease or colitis

There are ways in which you can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer such as:
• Get moving. At least 20 minutes out of breath exercise daily to help maintain a normal BMI
• Follow the mediterranean diet – lots of vegetables, olive oil, fruits, wholegrain foods and fish. Avoid too much meat and avoid all processed meats
• Stop smoking
• Watch the amount of alcohol you drink and follow the Government guidelines for men and women
• Avoid constipation at all costs. You need to do whatever is necessary to get those wastes out, either through diet, exercise, drinking more water, supplements, including Live Bacteria (sometimes known as probiotics), natural laxatives like senna, enemas or colon hydrotherapy. For professional colon hydrotherapy treatment contact The Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists at www.colonic-association.org
• Be body aware. Know what is normal for you and know when that has changed and it's time to go and see your GP. When you have evacuated your bowels, look down the loo. Does it look ‘normal’ for you or has something changed. You won’t know unless you look Don't leave it until it is too late. I know it can be embarrassing talking about our bowels and poo, but remember bowel cancer can kill, but no-one has died from embarrassment. Your GP has heard it and seen it all before. You haven't got anything they haven't seen before. It's all in a day's work for them.

For more information, visit:

Beating Bowel Cancer 
Bowel Cancer UK  
NHS Choices 
The Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists 

Linda x

Got a question about IBS, Bowel Cancer or general digestive health? Join us and Linda tonight, Mon 18th April 7-8pm for a LIVE Twitter Q&A using #AskLinda. Tweet us @myshowcase / @justfortummies