SNACKING on sweets and sugary treats may increase the risk of bowel cancer, a new UK study has found.
The study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, is the first of its kind to find a positive link between diets high in sugar and fat, and bowel cancer.
Bowel cancer is any cancer of the colon and rectum. It is sometimes called colorectal cancer, and it is the second most common cause of cancer in Australia.
The research looked at the diets of 2,000 bowel cancer patients and compared them to the dietary intake of a healthy population. More than 170 types of food and drink were examined.
Researchers found that the consumption of soft drink, cakes, desserts, crisps and biscuits is linked to an increase in risk in colorectal cancer.
While the exact cause of bowel cancer is not known, there are some factors that increase the chance of developing it. These include:
- Age – most commonly affects people over 50 years of age
- Family history and heritage
- Lifestyle factors – overweight, sedentary, high alcohol and fat diet, smoking
- Bowel diseases – such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, or previous bowel polyps
- Other diseases
The study confirmed links between bowel cancer and some of these established risk factors such as family history, physical activity and smoking.
A healthy dietary pattern was found to be associated with a deceased risk of bowel cancer.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offers free screening tests to Australians turning 50, 55, 60 or 65. It involves a simple test called a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) which can be conducted at home and sent for analysis.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.