Reducing Bowel Cancer Risk

When it comes to bowel cancer there are no guarantees, but there are choices you can make and steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Diet and lifestyle choices, as well as screening and surveillance, can influence you bowel cancer risk.
Because these are things you can change (modify), they are referred to as 'modifiable' risk factors.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) analyses global research to provide the best advice available regarding ways to reduce cancer risk. The 2017 report Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer was based upon -
99 studies from around the word   |   29 million adults   |   247,000 cases of bowel cancer


Being physically active decreases the risk of colon (not rectal) cancer.

Among 18-24 year-olds, 45% of men and 51% of women are insufficiently active; for those aged 55-64, 54% of men and 60% of women are insufficiently active. 

Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Physical Activity 370

Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Wholegrains
Consuming wholegrains and foods containing dietary fibre decreases the risk of bowel cancer.
Only one-third (34%) of all grain (cereal) foods consumed by Australians are wholegrain or high-fibre products.

Consuming dairy products and taking calcium supplements decreases the risk of bowel cancer.
Less than 6% of Australian females aged 19-50 years consume more than 2 serves of dairy or dairy alternatives per day, and only 14% of Australian males in the same age bracket do.
Consumption of dairy and dairy alternatives among Australians aged 51-70 is even less, with around two-thirds of both males and females getting less than 1½ serves per day, and one-third of Australians over age 70 consume less than 1 serve of dairy or dairy alternative daily.
Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Milk 370

Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Screening 370
Participating in bowel cancer
screening reduces the risk of dying from bowel cancer.
Fewer than 4 out of every 10 people (38.9%) invited to participate in the tax-payer funded National Bowel Cancer Screening Program actually do.

  Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Risk Factors

Consuming red meat 
and processed meat increases bowel cancer risk.
Australians consume an estimated average of 565 grams of red meat per week. 
Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Red Meat 370 

Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Alcohol 370

Consuming approximately two or more of alcoholic drinks per day increases bowel cancer risk. 

Almost 1 in 5 Australian adults (18%) consume more than 2 standard drinks
per day.

Being overweight or obese increases bowel cancer risk.
Being tall increases the risk of bowel cancer.
Nearly 2 in 3 Australian adults (63%) are overweight or obese.
Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Abdominal Fatness 370

Modifiable Bowel Cancer Australia Quit Smoking 370
Smoking increases bowel cancer risk.
Almost 1 in 8 Australian adults (13%)
smoke daily.