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How can I reduce my risk of bowel cancer?

Jeremy Bowen was diagnosed with the disease after suffering only vague symptoms, such as pain in his leg and back.

Processed meats like bacon can increase the risk of bowel cancer (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Processed meats like bacon can increase the risk of bowel cancer (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Veteran BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen has revealed he is being treated for bowel cancer. Experts say that following a balanced diet and cutting down on red meat and alcohol can reduce the risk of developing the disease.

How common is bowel cancer?

About 42,000 people in the UK develop bowel cancer every year and the disease kills more than 16,000 annually.

How do I know if I am at risk?

The risk of bowel cancer increases with age and most people are diagnosed when they are over the age of 60.

Genetics also play a role, with those with a strong family history of the disease at an increased risk.

Is there anything I can do to reduce my chances of getting bowel cancer?

Yes. Maintaining a healthy diet and cutting down on alcohol can reduce your risk.

Eating too much red and processed meat is linked to bowel cancer, and people should ensure they eat enough fibre as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Taking plenty of exercise also helps reduce the risk.

It is estimated that 11% of all bowel cancer cases in the UK are linked to being overweight or obese.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of bowel cancer can be subtle and so it is worth seeing your GP if you notice anything unusual.

More than 90% of people with bowel cancer have one or more of the following symptoms: a persistent change in bowel habit such as going more often or having looser stools; blood in the stools; abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating.

PA

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