The World Health Organization’s cancer agency has recently highlighted a clear link between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer risk. While the research showed some inconsistencies, there was limited evidence to show reducing or eliminating alcohol can notably decrease colorectal cancer risk.

Here we’ll explore the findings of the report, examine how alcohol fuels cancer risk, and outline the health perks of cutting back.

Studies suggests cutting out or limiting alcohol reduces cancer risk

After analysing numerous studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that there’s a consistent thread: limiting or stopping alcohol intake can lower the risk of certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.

Although the evidence varies, there is limited evidence to support that limiting alcohol consumption reduces the risk of colorectal, breast, and laryngeal cancers. Interestingly, an international pooled analysis consisting of 12 studies, revealed that quitting alcohol and smoking could significantly cut colorectal cancer risk.

Abstaining from alcohol for extended periods was also linked to a substantial decrease in risk, with up to a 55% reduction for those who quit for 20 years.

How does alcohol contribute to cancer risk?

Alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for several types of cancer, including colorectal cancer. There are various ways it can increase the risk such as damaging the lining of the digestive tract, making it easier for carcinogens to cause mutations in the DNA. It can also affect the body’s ability to process and absorb various nutrients, including vitamin B, which plays a role in cell health and division.

Alcohol metabolization results in acetaldehyde – a toxic chemical and probable human carcinogen that can damage DNA and proteins within the body. Alcohol can also increase the levels of certain hormones, such as oestrogen, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

For colorectal cancer specifically, alcohol may promote inflammation in the gut, leading to changes that could increase cancer risk.

The benefits of quitting or limiting alcohol intake

Scaling back on alcohol reduces the risk of cancer and brings a host of other health benefits too. Reducing alcohol consumption can lead to better liver health, improved sleep, lower blood pressure, and potential weight loss due to the high calorie content of many alcoholic beverages. It’s great for your mental health too. Cutting down on alcohol can boost mental clarity, reduce the risk of dependency, and generally improve life quality.

So, while the connection between alcohol and colorectal cancer may have some gaps in research, current evidence suggests reducing or eliminating alcohol intake does lower the risk. Even modest reductions can have significant health advantages.

If you’re concerned about your risk of developing colorectal cancer, or you want to take a proactive approach to reducing the risk, schedule an appointment with Mr Alan Woodward today.

Recent data from the American Cancer Society has revealed colorectal cancer is increasingly affecting younger adults. It has become the leading cause of cancer deaths in men under 50, and the second leading cause in women under 50.

Here we’ll explore the nature of colorectal cancer and why it is increasingly affecting younger patients.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. These cancers can be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they originate.

Most of these cancers begin as growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum, called polyps. Not all polyps become cancerous, but certain types, like adenomatous polyps, have a higher risk of turning into cancer over time.

This type of cancer usually develops gradually, and symptoms can include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort, and weight loss. However, early stages of the disease may not present any symptoms, making regular screening vital for early detection and successful treatment.

Why are colorectal cancer cases in young adults rising?

The increasing number of cases of colorectal cancer in young adults is a complex issue, with several contributing factors.

Experts believe that lifestyle factors such as obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and dietary choices, including consumption of red or processed meat and alcohol, all play a significant role. These factors can lead to chronic inflammation, which is known to increase the risk of cancer. Changes in the gut microbiome due to diet and environmental factors may also contribute to rising cases.

Another critical aspect is the lack of routine screening in younger adults. Unlike older adults, who are commonly screened for colorectal cancer, younger patients aren’t regularly checked, leading to delayed diagnoses.

This means that when young adults are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it is often at a more advanced stage, which can be harder to treat.

Screening for younger patients

With colorectal cancer cases on the rise in younger populations, it’s crucial to start regular screening at an earlier age. In England and Wales, you are invited for a screening from the age of 60, and this programme is being extended to include those aged from 50-59. Screening methods, such as colonoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopy or scans, can detect polyps before they turn into cancer, helping to prevent the disease.

For younger adults aged under 50, especially those with risk factors such as a family history of colorectal cancer, genetic predispositions, or chronic inflammatory conditions, early screening is crucial. Early screening can lead to less aggressive treatment options, which can have a profound impact on the quality of life for patients.

If you are concerned about your risk of developing colorectal cancer, help is available. Scheduling an appointment with a specialist, such as Mr Alan Woodward, can provide you with various screening options, and help in early detection.

Chronic diarrhoea can be a distressing and uncomfortable issue that can indicate a range of health issues. While most of the time, it points to a digestive condition, there are cases where it may be something more sinister.

Here, we’ll explore what chronic diarrhoea is, its common causes, and whether it could be a sign of cancer.

What is chronic diarrhoea?

Chronic diarrhoea refers to loose, watery stools that typically persist for more than four weeks. It can lead to dehydration and nutrient deficiencies due to the frequent loss of fluids and essential minerals.

Chronic diarrhoea differs from acute diarrhoea in its duration and potential underlying causes. While acute diarrhoea is often caused by infections or dietary factors and resolves quickly, chronic diarrhoea suggests a more persistent underlying issue.

The condition causes more than just physical discomfort, potentially affecting quality of life. It can interfere with daily activities, lead to embarrassment and anxiety, and cause you to frequently need to go to the bathroom.

Common causes of diarrhoea

Although, understandably, chronic diarrhoea can be concerning, it’s important to note that it isn’t usually anything serious. The most common causes include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Food intolerances or allergies
  • Certain medications
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

Many of these common causes relate to the digestive system’s function or reaction to specific stimuli, such as food or medication. However, it is still worth seeking medical advice if the issue persists for more than two to three weeks.

When might I need a colonoscopy?

Sometimes, a colonoscopy may be needed to investigate whether the problem could be linked to an underlying health condition. It might be recommended if there’s unexplained weight loss, blood in the stool, or a family history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel diseases.

A colonoscopy is a simple, painless procedure that lets the doctor examine the inner lining of your large intestine for abnormalities. They can also take tissue samples for a biopsy if needed.

Before undergoing the procedure, your symptoms, age, medical history, and risk factors will be assessed. For example, those aged over 50, or with a family history of gastrointestinal cancers, may be more commonly advised to have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a valuable diagnostic tool not only for identifying potential causes of chronic diarrhoea, but also for early detection of more serious conditions, including colorectal cancer.

So, while most of the time chronic diarrhoea isn’t something to be overly worried about, it’s important to seek medical advice.

If you are experiencing chronic diarrhoea, book an appointment with Mr Alan Woodward today. After an initial assessment, the cause of the problem will be identified, and Mr Woodward will talk through the treatment options available.

The festive season is a time of joy, family, and, of course, indulgence in delicious food. However, if you overindulge, there’s a chance you could end up with indigestion.

If you want to enjoy Christmas without worrying about the pain of indigestion, here you’ll discover practical tips and advice. Also, when persistent indigestion might be a symptom of another underlying condition.

Which foods cause indigestion?

Various foods are known to cause indigestion, particularly around the festive season. The main culprits include:

  • Rich fatty foods
  • Spicy Foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Dairy products

Rich, fatty foods, like roasted meats, gravy, and buttery pastries can be challenging to digest. They may taste heavenly but can lead to a lot of discomfort if you consume too much of them. Similarly, spicy foods and those high in seasoning can trigger acid reflux or heartburn.

Sweets and desserts, while tempting, can also contribute, especially when consumed in large quantities. The high sugar content can cause bloating and an uncomfortable feeling of fullness.

Also, be mindful of dairy products if you’re lactose intolerant. The key is to enjoy these foods in moderation, rather than over-indulging.

How to treat indigestion

If indigestion does strike, there are several ways to get rid of the discomfort. First, try simple home remedies like sipping on peppermint tea or ginger tea, both known for their digestive benefits. Ginger can particularly help soothe the stomach and reduce feelings of nausea.

Staying hydrated also helps digestion, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. However, avoid drinking too much water during meals, as it can dilute stomach acid and hinder digestion.

Gentle physical activity, like a leisurely walk after a meal, can aid digestion. Probiotics, whether in food form like yoghurt or as supplements, can also help in maintaining a healthy gut, which is vital for smooth digestion.

Over-the-counter antacids can be effective for immediate relief, but they should be used sparingly.

Knowing when to seek help

While occasional indigestion is common, it’s important to recognise when it’s more than just a one-off occurrence. If you find yourself frequently experiencing issues, or if the symptoms are particularly severe, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a medical specialist with expertise in gastrointestinal conditions. Especially when it is accompanied by other symptoms like weight loss, difficulty swallowing, or persistent vomiting.

Chronic or severe indigestion can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs treatment. Conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, or even gallbladder disease can manifest as indigestion.

Remember, while festive food and drink can cause some temporary discomfort, it’s important to take action when indigestion is persistent and becoming a cause for concern. By being mindful of what and how you eat, and knowing when to seek help, you can avoid letting indigestion dampen the festive spirit.

If your indigestion isn’t going away, schedule an appointment with Mr Alan Woodward.

The gallbladder, although not considered a vital organ, plays an important role in our digestive system. By storing bile and concentrating it, it aids the digestion of fats in food.

The foods we consume can either support the function of the gallbladder, or cause problems like gallstones and inflammation.

In this blog, we’ll explore the dietary guidelines you can follow to maintain a healthy gallbladder.

Plant based foods for a healthy gallbladder

Including more plant-based foods in your diet is a step in the right direction for your gallbladder health. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains aren’t just packed full of essential nutrients, but also in dietary fibre.

Dietary fibre aids in digestion and can help prevent the formation of gallstones. Additionally, adopting a diet rich in plant-based foods can boost your overall health, reducing the risk of many chronic diseases.

Avoid refined carbohydrates

Refined carbs, often found in white bread, sugary cereals, pastries, and processed foods, lack essential fibre and nutrients. Consuming these foods can lead to quick spikes and drops in blood sugar, adding stress to your body’s metabolic processes, including those of the gallbladder.

Opting for whole grains over refined grains, and reducing sugar intake, can make a noticeable difference in your gallbladder’s health and your overall well being.

Consume healthy fats in moderation

Fats are crucial for our body’s function; however, the type and quantity matter. It’s essential to choose sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. At the same time, you should limit saturated and trans fats often found in fried foods, certain margarines, and processed snacks.

Consuming fats in moderation ensures your gallbladder doesn’t overwork itself, decreasing the risk of gallstones.

Avoid the gallbladder cleanse

While it may sound tempting, the gallbladder cleanse, sometimes referred to as a gallbladder flush or detox, isn’t backed up by science. It typically involves consuming a mixture of olive oil, herbs, and fruit juice, with claims of flushing out gallstones.

However, not only is its effectiveness questionable, but it could also be potentially harmful, leading to pain, nausea, vomiting, and other negative effects. It’s crucial to be wary of ‘quick fixes’ and instead rely on evidence-based approaches to care for your gallbladder.

By following these tips and maintaining your gallbladder health, it can help to improve overall wellness. It’s also worth pointing out that if you need to have your gallbladder removed, you may need to eat smaller meals for a few days and focus on a low-fat diet.

Mr Alan Woodward can help determine the best course of treatment for any gallbladder issues you are experiencing.

A gastroscopy is a valuable medical procedure that enables a thorough investigation of the upper segment of your digestive tract. This will help to diagnose any gastrointestinal conditions. If you’ve been scheduled for this procedure, it’s natural to have questions such as how you should prepare and what you can expect on the day of the test.

To help, in this blog you’ll discover everything you need to know prior to undergoing a gastroscopy procedure.

How do I start preparing for a Gastroscopy?

Before your scheduled gastroscopy, you’ll be asked to fast. This means you should avoid eating or drinking, typically for around six hours prior to the procedure. Water can be sipped until 2 hours before the procedure. An empty stomach ensures the surgeon can get a clear view of what’s going on and reduces the risk of complications.

You should also inform the surgeon about any medications you’re currently taking, especially blood thinners or diabetes medications. You may need to adjust dosages or stop taking the medication before the procedure.

It’s crucial to provide your consultant with a complete health overview, so they’re aware of any allergies or conditions that might impact the procedure.

What happens during a Gastroscopy?

During a gastroscopy, you’ll be asked to lie down, and a mouth guard will typically be provided. The main tool used in this procedure is the gastroscope, a thin, flexible tube with a camera at its end. This is gently passed down your throat, into your oesophagus, and then further down to your stomach and duodenum.

The camera transmits images to a monitor, allowing these areas to be examined in detail. The procedure is relatively quick, often completed within 15 to 20 minutes.

While it may cause some discomfort, it shouldn’t be painful. Some people experience a sensation of fullness or a need to gag, but these feelings are temporary.

Can I have a sedative before a Gastroscopy?

If you’re apprehensive about the procedure or wish to be more relaxed while it is being performed, a sedative can be administered. This won’t put you to sleep entirely, but it will make you feel drowsy and relaxed.

The sedative medication is usually given as an injection into the arm. If you opt for a sedative, it’s essential to note that its effects can linger for a while. This means you’ll need someone to take you home after the procedure.

Driving, operating machinery, and making important decisions are not recommended for at least 24 hours post-sedation. Discuss any concerns with your consultant, and they will guide you on the best options for your comfort and safety.

If it has been recommended that you undergo a gastroscopy, schedule an appointment with Mr Woodward to learn more about what to expect. He will address any concerns you may have and help to put your mind at ease.

A recent study carried out in Korea has identified a significant connection between alcohol consumption and the risk of early-onset colorectal cancer (CRC). The findings serve as a reminder of the profound impacts of our daily habits – particularly affecting our risk of distal colon and rectal cancers.

In this article, we’ll explore the key findings from this large-scale study, and the potential dangers that alcohol may present in terms of cancer risk.

Alcohol Significantly Increases Risk of Early Onset CRC

In the recent study, data from nearly 5.7 million adults under the age of 50 was analysed. The data was sourced from the Korean National Health Insurance Service, and alcohol intake was categorised into levels ranging from non-drinkers to heavy drinkers.

During a mean follow-up of 7.4 years, 8314 early-onset CRC cases were identified. Notably, moderate, and heavy drinking presented a more pronounced risk for early-onset CRC, especially in men.

Men who drank heavily were found to have an increased risk of certain types of colon cancers. Moderate drinking in women on the other hand, showed a marked rise in distal colon cancer risk.

The study highlights the significance of managing alcohol consumption to reduce colorectal cancer risk, and the importance of screening and interventions for those susceptible to the disease.

How Does Alcohol Increase the Risk of Colorectal Cancer?

Alcohol, when metabolised, produces acetaldehyde – a substance known to damage DNA. This DNA damage can cause changes in our cells, which can then lead to different types of cancer, including colorectal cancer.

Alcohol can also impair the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, potentially disrupting the protective lining of the colon. This further increases the risk of cancerous growth.

Detecting and Treating Colorectal Cancer

Early detection remains crucial in addressing rising colorectal cancer rates. Routine screenings like colonoscopies are invaluable tools, especially for those with risk factors like excessive alcohol consumption.

Should CRC be diagnosed, treatment strategies include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, often in combination. The precise approach depends on the cancer’s stage and location. Early detection often leads to more favourable outcomes and treatment options.

Taking timely action can make a significant difference. It’s not just about detecting potential problems, but also about having peace of mind. Knowing you’re in safe and skilled hands is vital.

If you are concerned about your risk of colorectal cancer, schedule a colonoscopy with Mr. Alan Woodward today. Drawing on years of expertise, Mr. Woodward offers comprehensive care for patients seeking to protect their colon health.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended FIT tests be used by GPs to test for colorectal cancer.

According to figures by Cancer Research UK, an alarming 42,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are recorded each year. However, due to delays with colonoscopy procedures, detecting the cancer early can prove challenging.

Here, we’ll be exploring what exactly FIT tests are, the reasoning behind NICE’s recommendation, and the vital importance of early detection in the fight against colorectal cancer.

What are FIT Tests and How Do They Work?

The Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is a simple, self-administered test that detects minuscule traces of blood in your stool. These traces are so small that you may not notice them, but they could potentially signal the presence of cancer.

It’s important to note that blood in your stool can be caused by various medical conditions, and not just cancer. However, if it is cancer, early detection significantly increases the effectiveness of treatment.

FIT is uniquely designed to detect human blood, minimising the chance of false positives from dietary sources. Conducting the test is a simple process that you carry out at home, involving just one stool sample.

Your doctor will provide you with the test or arrange for it to be mailed to you. To collect the sample, use a plastic container lined with toilet paper placed in the toilet bowl. Ensure your stool doesn’t encounter urine, water, or the toilet itself.

You can typically expect your results within a fortnight. If you haven’t heard anything after two weeks, contact the doctor who arranged the test.

Why NICE is Recommending FIT Tests for Colorectal Cancer

So, why the specific emphasis on FIT? The decision to recommend this test is aimed at easing the strain on colonoscopy services.

Given the current limited capacity, colonoscopy can sometimes come with long wait times, delaying a potentially life-saving diagnosis. By endorsing FIT as an alternative diagnostic tool, the goal is to significantly cut down these wait times and improve early detection rates.

Why Early Detection Matters in Colorectal Cancer

The best way to deal with colorectal cancer, like any health condition, is to catch it early. Early detection not only increases your chances of a successful treatment, but also offers more treatment options with fewer side effects.

A colonoscopy is a proactive step towards maintaining your health and can help detect a number of conditions, not just cancer. Also, as a procedure, it has come a long way in terms of comfort and convenience. A colonoscopy normally takes around half an hour and is carried out under sedation, so you can relax and should feel very little discomfort. Usually, cancer is not detected, and if the test finds polyps (pre-cancerous growths), these can be removed. The test can help identify other causes of bowel symptoms, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

If you are concerned you may have colorectal cancer, or you have been recommended for a colonoscopy, schedule an appointment with Mr. Alan Woodward today.

Did you know that many people who have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), find it hard to get a good night’s sleep? In fact, over a third of IBD sufferers say they can’t sleep well and experience insomnia, according to a recent study.

The study showed that insomnia can have a big impact on quality of life. Here, we look at the findings of the recent research, and what steps you can take if your IBD is causing you sleepless nights.

Study shows insomnia tied to active IBD

Researchers from the Flinders Medical Centre in Bedford Park, Australia, carried out an online survey involving 670 IBD patients. It revealed ‘active IBD’, when a patient’s condition is not well controlled causing symptoms including belly pain, and significant anxiety and depression, was significantly tied to insomnia. It also found that over a third of patients suffer with some level of sleep disturbance.

There hasn’t been much research carried out to determine how sleepless nights are connected to IBD. However, when it comes to other long-term health issues, not being able to sleep has been tied to a poorer quality of life.

Past research has shown that those with IBD who have a hard time sleeping, experience more severe symptoms, and this affects their overall well-being.

Screening for IBD patients

Results from the study highlight the need for insomnia screening in those who are diagnosed with IBD. In this study, a score of 14 or above on a scale called the ‘Insomnia Severity Index’ meant that a person’s insomnia was serious enough to need addressing.

Identifying sleep problems early is crucial. Thankfully, there are effective ways to treat the condition and improve the life for those struggling with both IBD and sleep issues. However, getting an early diagnosis is essential because if sleep issues persist, they can be more difficult to treat.

Treating IBD related insomnia

If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, while also dealing with the symptoms of IBD, there are treatments available. The initial step is to verify that insomnia is what’s causing the sleep issues, as other conditions like sleep apnoea, restless legs syndrome, or inadequate sleep practices might be to blame.

If insomnia is found to be the culprit, it’s critical to assess how much it’s affecting your daily life. Is it causing you to miss out on social gatherings, work commitments, or even making it challenging to carry out everyday tasks like driving or shopping?

If insomnia is taking a toll on your lifestyle, consulting a sleep specialist can be highly beneficial. You’ll want to manage your IBD symptoms effectively too, since they can also influence the quality of your sleep.

Don’t let sleepless nights with IBD hold you back; schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist to discuss treatment options.

According to a recent study, the likelihood of patients developing colon cancer shot up almost fourfold within a year of receiving treatment for acute appendicitis. This research accounted for nearly all appendicitis cases in adults in France, spanning from 2010 to 2015.

The short gap between appendicitis and a cancer diagnosis led the researchers to conclude that appendicitis might serve as an early red flag for colon cancer, rather than being a direct cause. They also suggest those who have undergone an appendectomy should undergo regular colon cancer screenings.

Here, we explore the latest research and provide tips on how to foster a beneficial gut microbiome following an appendectomy.

Colon cancer risk quadruples within a year of an appendectomy

Researchers used the French Hospital Discharge Database to compare 230,512 acute appendicitis cases with 461,024 control cases of trauma patients, over a period of five years. These groups were matched based on age, gender, and overall health. The study excluded individuals with personal or a family history of colon cancer, and other high-risk factors. Results showed that patients diagnosed with colon cancer within a month of suffering with appendicitis were often discovered during appendectomy. These patients were also excluded.

Remaining data revealed 111 patients were diagnosed with colon cancer within a year of having appendicitis or an appendectomy. This was significantly higher compared to 55 individuals in the control group.

After adjusting for other factors, the study found that appendicitis patients had a nearly four times greater risk of colon cancer in the first year, and an almost six times greater risk in the first six months. This risk was particularly pronounced in patients under 40 and for right-sided colon cancer, which is on the same side as the appendix. After one year, colon cancer rates levelled out between the two groups.

The study concluded that appendicitis could be an early warning signal for colon cancer, rather than a direct cause.

What is an appendectomy?

An appendectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the appendix, a small organ attached to the large intestine, found on the lower right side of the abdomen. This surgery is typically performed as an emergency medical procedure when the appendix becomes inflamed or infected, a condition known as appendicitis.

While it’s generally a straightforward and commonly performed operation, it does carry certain risks, as with any surgical procedure. For this reason, an appendectomy serves as a necessary intervention when the appendix causes health issues.

It is believed that the appendix plays a key role in maintaining a diverse gut microbiome. These bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining your health, although some types can contribute to diseases. A recent study found that microbes in the gut contribute to colorectal cancer risk and that patients could be at higher risk of this disease after an appendectomy, because it disrupts the balance of bacteria.

Precautions to take after an appendectomy

After an appendectomy, you need to be proactive about nutrition to ensure you have an optimal population of good bacteria in your gut. You can nurture your gut microbiome through dietary choices. Consuming fermented foods, like yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and tempeh, enriches your gut with lactobacilli, a health-supportive bacteria.

Probiotic foods, which stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria will also help. These are primarily fibre or complex carbs that are digested by gut bacteria for energy. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and standalone probiotic supplements are excellent sources.

If you are concerned about your risk of colorectal disease, book an appointment with Mr Alan Woodward. There are different tests for diagnosing colorectal conditions that can be discussed with you, including a Colonoscopy – a common and straightforward procedure that can be carried out under sedation. Get in touch to find out more.

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