5 easy things you can do for better digestive health

The good news is bowel cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable if detected early. Here’s what you need to know today. 

If you’re one of the many Australians who believes bowel cancer is just an ‘old man’s disease’, think again. Sadly, it affects men and women almost equally, and 1 in 15 Aussie women will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime.

It is currently the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. But the good news is that bowel cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable if detected early.

WIN! Women's Fiction book package - full competition details at bottom of article

That’s why Bowel Cancer Australia has launched a new campaign, called Be Well Week, dedicated to Aussie women. Throughout September, Bowel Cancer Australia is encouraging women to make a promise they will keep – to be bowel cancer aware and make their health and wellbeing a priority.

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Be informed: Around 45% (almost half) of all Australians diagnosed are women

It’s simple. Follow these 5 Be Well Week tips:

1. Be informed about the major bowel cancer risk factors
- a personal or family history of bowel cancer
- a genetic predisposition
- aged 50 years and over
- a history of bowel polyps, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

2. Be vigilant and follow up symptoms
Regardless of age, know the symptoms of bowel cancer and if you notice something isn't right don't delay in talking to your doctor about them.

Although bowel cancer often develops without any obvious warning signs, it’s important to follow up with a doctor if you experience any of the below for more than two weeks:

  • a change in bowel habit
  • a change in appearance of bowel movements
  • blood in the stool or rectal bleeding For more signs and symptoms, visit bewellweek.org.

3. Be knowledgeable about your family history
Having relatives, especially first degree relatives such as parents, sisters, brothers or children with bowel cancer significantly increases your risk of developing bowel cancer also.

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Eating high fibre foods, garlic, milk and consuming calcium may decrease the risk 

4. Be conscious of your diet and lifestyle
It is estimated that changes to diet and physical activity could reduce the incidence of bowel cancer by up to 75 per cent. So it is important for women to be aware of what they can do to help reduce their risk. Visit bowelcanceraustralia.org for the latest diet and lifestyle guidelines.

5. Be proactive with screening and surveillance
Medical guidelines recommend screening for bowel cancer every 1 to 2 years from age 50. Talk to your GP or pharmacist today about bowel cancer screening or purchase a BowelScreen Australia® test online at bowelscreenaustralia.org or by phoning 1800 555 494.

Regular surveillance may be recommended by a specialist for people with a family or personal history of bowel cancer or if you are at an increased risk of developing the disease – including if you have a history of bowel polyps, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Be Well Week: Host a breakfast or brunch
Throughout September, women are also encouraged to get together and host a Be Well Breakfast or Brunch to raise much needed funds and awareness for Bowel Cancer Australia. To find out how you can get involved, visit bewellweek.org.

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WIN! Be Well Week Competition
This September Bowel Cancer Australia is supporting the women of Australia to Be Well and Be Bowel Cancer Aware. Share your top tip for keeping healthy for a chance to win a women’s fiction pack thanks to Pan Macmillan.

For your chance to win send your healthy tip, Full Name, Date of Birth, Email Address, Telephone Number and Postcode to competition@bowelcanceraustralia.org.
Entries close midnight AEST Wednesday 30th September 2015.

The fantastic Pan Macmillan Women’s Fiction Pack includes: ‘Rush Oh!’ by Shirley Barrett, ‘The Bit in Between’ by Claire Varley, ‘Salt Creek’ by Lucy Treloar, ‘We Never Asked for Wings’ by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, ‘Villa America’ by Liza Klaussmann and ‘The Bones of You’ by Debbie Howells.

Head to bewellweek.org for full competition Terms and Conditions.

What are your best tips for keeping healthy? Share your thoughts below. . .