Obesity puts you at an increased risk of bowel cancer – our second most common cancer – along with age, family history and inflammatory bowel disease.
Of all those risk factors, weight management is the one you can best control.
Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet will go a long way towards lowering your chance of developing bowel cancer.
Get started with a few of these smart food swaps.
INSTEAD OF > Lamb chops
SWITCH TO > Fish
Fish, along with poultry meats such as chicken and turkey, may not increase your risk of bowel cancer the way red and processed meats can. Cancer Research UK reports that in 2011, it was estimated that about one in five bowel cancers were linked to eating red and processed meats. People who eat fish every other day lower their risk of bowel cancer by about a third compared to people eating fish once a fortnight, according to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.
INSTEAD OF > Juice
SWITCH TO > Milk
Aside from the calcium benefits of milk, UK researchers also linked having 500 to 800g of milk a day to lowering the risk of bowel cancer by as much as 30 per cent. So, instead of reaching for a juice with breakfast, try a glass of milk, which weighs in at approximately 250g.
INSTEAD OF > Pancakes
SWITCH TO > Scrambled eggs
Starting your day with a breakfast of scrambled eggs can help fight bowel cancer risks two-fold. Studies have shown that people with the highest intakes of vitamin D – found in small amounts in egg yolks – have a lower risk of bowel polyps and bowel cancer. What’s more, vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which has been shown to reduce your risk of bowel cancer. So add some milk to your eggs and enjoy!
INSTEAD OF > Savory biscuits
SWITCH TO > Fruit and veg sticks
Snacking is essential for fuelling your body and brain throughout the day. We all know what happens without a 3pm snack, right? But instead of reaching for crackers or chips, fibre-packed fruit and veg might lower the risk of bowel cancer, according to World Cancer Research Fund investigations. Researchers believe antioxidant vitamins and minerals found in fruit and veg help prevent cell damage that can lead to cancer.
INSTEAD OF > White bread
SWITCH TO > Wholegrain bread
Fibre can improve bowel health and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Switching to a fibre-rich bread such as wholegrain bread, made with whole-wheat flour (check that it’s the first ingredient on the ingredients list) and added grains is an easy way to help reach your recommended daily intake of 25-30g. For example, two slices of white bread carries around 1.9 grams of fibre, while two slices of wholegrain bread packs about six gram.
INSTEAD OF > Meat pie
SWITCH TO > Spinach and ricotta pie
With evidence to suggest a diet rich in folate can help lower your chance of bowel cancer, we say it’s worth channeling Popeye when it comes to picking your pie. Folate (Vitamin B9), which is plentiful in spinach, is essential for the maintenance and repair of DNA, which helps to prevent cancer.