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Unnecessary deaths in Australia

Unnecessary deaths in Australia

Bowel Cancer


EVEN if the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is funded at the next budget it will take two years to be reinstated, resulting in more than 2000 unnecessary deaths, an Australian expert says.

Sydney colorectal surgeon Associate Professor Graham Newstead made the prediction in response to revelations from a government document obtained under freedom of information laws. According to the briefing document,  once the government has made a decision regarding the fate of the screening program, it would take a minimum of 10 months to “implement transition arrangements”. But Professor Newstead said the whole process would take closer to two years. In that time, 8800 people would die from bowel cancer – a quarter of whom could have been saved by screening, he said.


What are some of the symptoms of bowel cancer?


Caecum and ascending colon—neoplasms occurring here may be quite large and ulcerative, leading to intermittent blood loss. Many of the signs and symptoms are related to that insidious bleeding, including hypochromic, microcytic anaemia from iron deficiency, weakness and fatigue, dyspnoea, palpitations, angina pectoris and intolerance to exercise


Transverse colon—more water is absorbed as faecal matter passes through this part of the large bowel; tumours in this location may cause:

Flatulence, abdominal cramps, obstruction, perforation


Descending colon—tumours can lead to the following symptoms, particularly when there is partial blockage:

Abdominal distension or pain, painful defecation, change in bowel habits with reduced calibre of stool



Hematochezia (rectal bleeding) (generally, diagnosis is made before anaemia develops), tenesmus (ineffective and painful straining), narrow stool.


What can you do to protect yourself?

Diet and Lifestyle

       Vegetarians are at lower risk than meat-eaters.

       High rates of alcohol consumption significantly increase risk, particularly in men.

       Sedentary lifestyle and obesity appear to increase risk (Giovannucci et al. 1995a; Giovannucci et al. 1996).

       Moderate physical exercise and control of energy intake are suggested.

       Olive oil consumption appears to be associated with reduced risk.

       High consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids appears to reduce risk of colorectal cancer (de Deckere1999).

       High dietary intake of calcium may reduce risk (Holt 1999).

      Anti-inflammatory actives such as ginger, turmeric and others may reduce cancer development

      Tobacco smoking is associated with a higher risk of colon cancer, which appears to be mediated by induction of 5-lipoxygenase–associated angiogenic pathways.

       Hyperinsulinaemia (high insulin levels in blood) is associated with the development of many cancers, including bowel cancer.

       Management of obesity, visceral fat, a low carbohydrate diet (rich in plant materials, and low in refined sugary foods/drinks) and exercise may all help with reduction of insulin production.

       In men, a high waist circumference and high waist-to-hip ratio is an independent risk factor for colon cancer, regardless of weight.


A good diet and a healthy lifestyle will give you a considerable degree of protection against cancer, and also many of the modern diseases.

Your health is your greatest asset, what can you do today to protect it?





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