Get hairier than ever!

It's Decembeard!

Decembeard is back and it's bigger and hairier than ever!

Forget the mo' – or add to it! Taking part is simple: ditch your razor and let your beard grow this December. Already bearded? No problem. Dye, ditch or decorate your beard and join the campaign.

You’ll receive your free fundraising pack which will includes a guide with lots of ideas to help with your beard growing and fundraising lifesaving research and supporting everyone affected by bowel cancer.

Bowel Cancer UK’s vision is a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer. They're determined to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by bowel cancer by championing early diagnosis and access to best treatment and care.

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer means a cancer that starts in the colon (large bowel) or back passage (rectum). It is also known as colorectal cancer. Cancers can also occur in the small bowel (intestine).

Who is at risk? Factors include (but are not limited to):

  • Eating too little fibre causes around 30 in 100 bowel cancer cases (around 30%) in the UK
  • 11 out of 100 bowel cancers (11%) in the UK are linked to being overweight or obese
  • 7 out of 100 bowel cancers (7%) in the UK are linked to smoking
  • More than 40 out of 100 bowel cancer cases (more than 40%) in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 75 or over
  • 6 out of 100 bowel cancers (around 6%) in the UK are linked to drinking alcohol
  • The risk is increased further if you have more than one relative diagnosed with bowel cancer. Or you have a first degree relative diagnosed at a young age, for example, under the age of 45 years old
  • Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are chronic bowel diseases causing inflammation in the bowel. Having either of these diseases for many years increases your risk of bowel cancer.
  • There is strong evidence which shows that people who are more physically active have a lower risk of bowel cancer
  • You have an increased risk of developing another bowel cancer if you have already had a bowel cancer in the past
  • People with diabetes may have an increased risk of bowel cancer
  • The risk of rectal cancer is increased in people with gallstones compared to those without
  • People with acromegaly also have an increased risk of bowel cancer
  • Growths in the bowel, called polyps or adenomas, are not cancerous. But they can develop into cancer over a long period of time. In fact, most bowel cancers develop from an adenoma. Your risk of developing cancer depends on how many polyps you have, and how large they are
  • Around 2 in 100 cases (around 2%) of bowel cancer in the UK are linked to radiation exposure
  • There is some evidence that the risk of bowel cancer is higher in people who have an infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).

Clearly, following healthy eating and exercising guidelines as well as limiting alcohol and avoiding smoking will help reduce your risk. In particular, red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals and can form part of a balanced diet. But eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases your risk of bowel cancer. That’s why it’s recommended that people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat per day cut down to 70g or less, as this could help reduce your risk of bowel cancer.

Possible symptoms of bowel cancer

  • Bleeding from the back passage (rectum) and/or blood in your poo
  • A change in your normal bowel habit
  • A lump your doctor can feel in your back passage or abdomen
  • A feeling of needing to strain in your back passage (as if you need to poo), even after opening your bowels
  • Losing weight
  • Pain in your abdomen or back passage
  • Tiredness and breathlessness.

See your doctor if you notice a change that isn’t normal for you or if you have any of the possible signs and symptoms of cancer. If you have any symptoms, don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them. Doctors are used to seeing lots of people with bowel problems.

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