Bowel cancer: The diet tied to higher risk of disease through the intestinal microbiota

Chris Evans discusses bowel cancer and Deborah James' death

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New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests a Western-style diet, one rich in red and processed meats, sugar, and refined grains is linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer.

The conclusion was reached after analysis of more than 134,000 participants in a US trial.

Co-author of the study Shuji Ogino said: “These findings support our hypothesis that Western-style diets increase colorectal cancer risk through its effect on E.coli.

“This is the first study to link Western diet with specific pathogenic bacteria in cancer.”

Ogino said the next question they wanted to answer was “which component of the Western-style diet and lifestyle relates to colorectal cancer”.

Bowel cancer has been at the top of the news agenda in recent days after the passing of bowel cancer campaigner Dame Deborah James.

After being diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer in 2016, Dame James worked tirelessly to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

As part of her campaigning, she joined the renowned podcast You, Me, and the Big C on BBC.

In a statement her family said: “We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most amazing wife, daughter, sister, mummy.

“Deborah, who many of you will know as Bowelbabe, was an inspiration and we are incredibly proud of her and her work and commitment to charitable campaigning, fundraising and her endless efforts to raise awareness of cancer that touched so many lives.

“Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer. Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and awareness was inspiring.”

When James announced she had entered end-of-life care in May she launched a fund named after her social media handle Bowelbabe.

Such is the regard in which Dame James was held, the fund quickly surpassed its target of £250,000 and has now received close to £7million.

The aim of the fund is to “raise money to fund clinical trials and research into personalised medicine for cancer patients and supporting campaigns to raise awareness of bowel cancer”.

So significant has been Dame James’ influence in changing perceptions of bowel cancer, that #checkyourpoo was trending on Twitter in the hours after the news of her death was announced.

The reason for this is one of the signs of bowel cancer is blood in someone’s poo.

Other symptoms of bowel cancer include:
• Bleeding from the bottom
• A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
• Unexplained weight loss
• Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
• A pain or lump in the tummy.

While it’s possible these symptoms may not be bowel cancer, it is important they are checked if they persist just in case it is.

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