Avoiding a diagnosis of colon cancer

‘One of the main risk factors for bowel cancer is genetic predisposition but it has been linked to eating too much red or cured meat. No one knows why this is the case although it may be something to do with how the gut manages that volume of protein. What we do know is that bowel cancer usually starts out as a polyp – a type of growth- on the side of the bowel which goes through a series of changes to become cancerous.

I limit my intake of red meat to less than twice a week, although I love steak and red wine but I don’t drink every day and only in moderation.  Red wine does contain compounds that may help to ward off cancer. I try to eat as healthily as I can but I am not obsessive about it. For example, I love bags of crisps every now and then. The main thing is to balance the risk with enjoyment of life.

When it comes to smoking, I am absolutely firm. I know that smoking is a major contributory factor in many cancers and I would never touch a cigarette and have never smoked.

When it comes to taking low-dose aspirin, however, it is not so clear cut. There are risks and benefits to be considered. It might be helpful against bowel cancer, according to the studies, although I don’t have a family history of this disease. For me personally, I think the benefits outweigh the risks, especially because it can help to decrease the incidence of cardiovascular disease. When I get to 45, I plan to start taking low-dose aspirin daily.’

Dr Amen Sibtain

Dr Amen Sibtain, is a consultant clinical oncologist based in London. He specialises in gastrointestinal cancer among others.

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