Hunter bowel cancer rate high

Hunter residents are dying needlessly from bowel cancer – steps can be taken to reduce the risk.

About 60 people on average die from bowel cancer each year in the Hunter, but many of these deaths could be prevented, a leading advocacy group says.

Death rates for the disease per 100,000 people in the Upper Hunter, Dungog, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and Maitland were higher than the NSW rate.

Bowel Cancer Australia, which provided these figures, warned that diet and lifestyle were linked to about three quarters of bowel cancer cases.

Across Australia, 15,000 people were diagnosed each year with the disease.

Of these, more than 4000 people die, Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Julien Wiggins said.

Mr Wiggins said the western diet increased bowel cancer risk, along with excessive sitting, a lack of physical activity and obesity.

“Up to 75 per cent of cases are believed to be diet and lifestyle related,” Mr Wiggins said.Additionally, 20 per cent of cases were related to family history and about 5 per cent to genetics.

“To reduce risk, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity every day,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon, it can mean washing the car, vacuuming, walking and taking the stairs and not the lift,” he said.

Changes to diet and lifestyle “don’t have to be drastic, but can help reduce bowel cancer risk”.

Increasing fibre, particularly fruit and vegetables, was important.

“We know red meat is linked to increased bowel cancer risk,” he said.

“We’re not saying stop eating it, we’re just saying if you choose to eat red meat, try to aim for less than 500 grams a week.”

Processed meat, such as salami, should be avoided where possible.

“If you do enjoy a barbecue, try to marinate or partly cook the meat first in the oven to protect it from burning,” he said.

This was aimed at reducing “cooking time on open flames”.

“Charred or blackened meats should be avoided, as they can damage the cells lining the bowel,” he said.

Alcohol, smoking and body weight were factors in the disease.

“If you choose to drink, limit yourself to no more than two a day for men and one for women,” he said.

Increased body weight, particularly abdominal fat, was a risk factor for bowel cancer. Quitting smoking was another way to reduce risk.

A Bowel Cancer Australia report said the disease’s death rate soared 10-fold between the ages of 50 and 79.

“The tragedy of bowel cancer is that it is largely a preventable disease,” the report said.

Cancer of the bowel could be pinpointed and surgically removed, so the bowel can continue to operate.

“Bowel cancer can be beaten through public education, early detection and treatment.”

Mr Wiggins recommended that people aged over 50 take part in bowel cancer screening – using a test kit –every one to two years.

“The earlier it’s detected, the more successful it is to treat,” he said.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late because bowel cancer often develops without any warning signs.”

Some receive the test kit in the mail for free, but it could be bought at pharmacies. Callan Douglas, 31, urged people to take the test, saying “that’s what saved dad’s life”.

“They estimated that dad’s cancer was in him for five years. That was five years without any symptoms at all.”

Callan Douglas was overwhelmed with the support he received during the trek. Of his son’s achievement, Andrew Douglas said “I take my hat off to him”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.