It may feel a little uncomfortable to talk about, but when it comes to our bowel health, it’s an area women and men need more education around so we want to break the stigma and support your bowel wellbeing.
Currently 15,206 people are diagnosed each year with bowel cancer in Australia, but in good news, it is also one of the most preventable cancers, with 99 per cent of cases able to be treated if detected early.
Bowel cancer affects men and women at slightly different rates, with 1 in 13 men diagnosed and 1 in 17 women diagnosed each year, but the causes and risk factors can affect either in the same ways.
With bowel cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) primarily influenced by the large intestine’s health, lifestyle factors such as what we eat, drink and consume can all play a part in supporting bowel health.
With this in mind, we want to inspire education that empowers our community to keep bowel health in mind, by not only providing resources on how to support bowel wellbeing, but by also partnering with Bowel Cancer Australia as our monthly Awareness Bracelet partner.
For the month of June, Bowel Cancer Australia will be our charity focus and during this time we want to inspire awareness and raise much needed funds to support bowel research by donating $20 from the sale of every bracelet direct to the organisation.
But before we talk about our beautiful gemstone bracelet of this month, we want to talk a little more about bowel wellbeing, what to look out for (symptoms wise) and how to keep bowel health in check.
What is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, can occur along any part of the colon or rectum.
The colon and rectum are parts of the large intestine (with the colon itself 1.8 metres long).
During the process of digestion, the large intestine receives food from the ceacrum (pouch within the abdominal cavity at beginning of large intestine), absorbs water and nutrients and then passes waste through to the rectum.
Afterwards cells are usually eliminated from the body. However, in some cases, cells do not pass through and can instead become ‘polyps’ (growths) that can begin as non-threatening but grow along the wall or lining of the bowel and can in some cases become cancerous.
Bowel cancer is Australia's second deadliest cancer after lung cancer and is the fifth highest cause of death in young Australians aged 15-44.
To understand more about symptoms or how bowel cancer occurs, we recommend checking out this video from colorectal surgeon Dr Graham Newstead on the What is bowel cancer? page here.
What are the common symptoms of bowel cancer?
As bowel cancer primarily relates to the bowel and its movements, as icky as it may feel to chat about, the common symptoms to keep eyes out for tend to relate to digestion, gut health and toilet habits.
Symptoms can include:
- Blood in your poo or rectal bleeding
- Persistent change in bowel habit (diarrhoea, constipation or feeling of emptying)
- Change in shape or appearance of poo (either narrow or mucus in poo)
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Pain or a lump in the anus or rectum
- Unexplained anaemia causing tiredness, weakness or weight loss
What are ways to help bowel wellbeing?
Bowel cancer develops either from lifestyle factors or family history.
The good news with lifestyle factors is that bowel health can be supported by making adaptations to diet and wellbeing habits, these can include.
- Not smoking
- Reducing how much red meat you eat and how it’s cooked (avoid eating charred meat).
- Cutting back on processed meats consumption (be it smoked, cured, salted or preserved).
- Minimising alcohol intake
- Keeping body weight in a healthy range.
- Exercising regularly
With family history, other medical conditions or genetics that play a part, this can be trickier to control, however for anyone with a family history, hereditary conditions, Type II diabetes or other closely linked cancers such as ovarian, digestive system, inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s or ulcarative colitis), regular check ups with a GP are recommended.
Bowel Cancer screening tests can also be done from home, to learn go to the Bowel Cancer Australia information page here.
Why We love The Awareness Bracelet
By choosing a Bowel Cancer Australia Awareness Bracelet this month you will not only support a worthy cause but will also be supporting local business, keep our beautiful beaders busy and hone your intuition.
Each bracelet is hand beaded with pink tiger eye gemstone ‘The Stone of Intuition’ allowing you to connect to your inner wisdom and co-conspire with the universe to support an important charity cause.
The Bowel Cancer Awareness Bracelet comes in three metal colours of choice - rose gold, solid gold or sterling silver and features the signature Bowel Cancer Australia grape red hue.
It also offers a feel good factor. By purchasing a Bowel Cancer Awareness bracelet, $20 from each bracelet sale goes directly to supporting Bowel Cancer Australia.
The organisation is 100% community-funded and works to support all areas of bowel health - prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care support services for those affected by bowel cancer.