Exercise has long been known to provide a plethora of benefits for our physical and mental health. Now, a new study has revealed that even moderate amounts of physical activity can help to prevent deadly diseases such as bowel cancer.

Published in the International Journal of Cancer, the latest study reveals exactly how exercise helps to reduce the risk of getting the disease. Here, we will look at what the study found and why becoming more active is key to staying healthy.

The latest bowel cancer study

The latest study was carried out by researchers from the York St John and Newcastle universities. A prospective, two-site, controlled, and randomised trial was carried out on 16 men. They ranged in age from 50-80, and each had lifestyle risk factors of bowel cancer.

The men were split into two groups, with one group undergoing six 5-minute indoor cycling intervals with a 60% heart rate reserve. The other group carried out no exercise and instead enjoyed 60 minutes of seated rest while the other group were exercising. Human serum was collected before and after exercise to measure any exercise-induced changes in intracellular protein expression and serum cytokines.

It was revealed that exercise increased the levels of blood IL-6 protein. When blood was taken right after exercise, it helped to slow down cancer cells while also reducing the amount of DNA damage caused.

Speaking of the findings, Exercise Physiology lecturer from the Newcastle University, Dr Sam Orange, states:

“Previous scientific evidence suggests that more exercise is better for reducing bowel cancer risk, as the more physical activity people do, the lower their chances of getting it. Our findings support this idea.”

What type of exercise is better at preventing cancer?

While all types of exercise can help to reduce the risk of cancer, cardio tends to be one of the most effective. This gets the heart rate up, and it also leads to the production of higher levels of blood IL-6 protein.

Carrying out exercise multiple times a week can provide protection against several forms of the disease, including bowel cancer. What was most interesting about the new study was that it showed exercise has benefits at reducing the risk of cancer far beyond weight loss.

Detect bowel cancer early

While this new study could lead to the development of new treatments and aid in the prevention of bowel cancer, this could take a while. It is also worth noting that not all cases of bowel cancer can be prevented. The best way to detect bowel cancer early is to be regularly screened.

There are numerous ways to screen for bowel cancer, but a colonoscopy is one of the most effective. This common and painless procedure helps to detect any changes within the large colon and rectum. Book a consultation with Mr Woodward today to arrange a colonoscopy, or you can seek a referral from your GP.

Did you know bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK? According to Bowel Cancer UK, approximately 268,000 people are currently living with the disease. It is the fourth most common type of cancer, yet many patients know very little about what it is or the signs to watch out for.

Like any type of cancer, detecting the early signs of bowel cancer is crucial. One way to ensure you catch it as early as possible is to undergo a colonoscopy. Here, you’ll discover what a colonoscopy is, alongside what to expect if you do undergo one.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is performed to detect abnormal changes within the large colon and rectum. It is a common diagnostic procedure carried out on thousands of patients each year and it can help to detect a range of conditions early.

The procedure isn’t usually painful, but it may cause some level of discomfort. For this reason, you may request a sedative if preferred. However, if you do choose this option, keep in mind that you won’t be able to drive for around 24 hours. This means you will need somebody to come and pick you up after the procedure.

How is it performed?

On the day of your colonoscopy, you will be required to fast for a set period of time. The surgeon will let you know when you need to stop drinking and eating. To ensure the bowels are empty during the procedure, a laxative will typically be provided. This helps the surgeon to get a better look at what is going on inside the bowel.

During a colonoscopy procedure, a long flexible tube with a tiny camera attached is placed into the rectum. This is known as a colonoscope, and it helps the surgeon to get a good view of what is happening in the rectum and large colon. Once the tube has been inserted, air is used to open the bowels. This may cause a bloated feeling, or you may feel like you need the toilet.

It takes around 30-45 minutes to undergo a colonoscopy, but you may be at the clinic for up to 2 hours in total.

Is a colonoscopy only used to detect bowel cancer?

No, a colonoscopy can be used to detect a variety of conditions. If your doctor has recommended you undergo the procedure, it could be down to any of the following reasons:

  • To investigate changes in bowel habits
  • To detect any growths within the bowels
  • To check for conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, or ulcerative colitis

Most people who undergo a colonoscopy don’t have bowel cancer. However, if it is cancer, the procedure can help to catch it early, improving the prognosis.

If you have been recommended a colonoscopy, contact Mr Woodward today. Although it can be worrying, the procedure is straightforward and painless. It can also help to provide peace of mind and ensure you get the treatment you need whatever the problem turns out to be.

After undergoing gallbladder surgery, you may find you experience a few digestive issues. While the body doesn’t need the gallbladder to survive, it can take a while for it to adjust to no longer having one. In some cases, digestive changes will be permanent, while in others they may only last for a few weeks.

It is also worth noting that most patients don’t experience any digestive issues after gallbladder removal. However, if you do, it’s worth chatting with your surgeon to see what dietary changes you should make.

Here, you’ll discover a brief guide on how to manage your diet after gallbladder surgery.

What food should you avoid after gallbladder surgery?

After undergoing gallbladder surgery, there are some foods you might want to avoid in order to reduce the risk of digestive issues. These include high-fat foods such as:

  • Ground beef and other fatty meats
  • Fried foods
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Pizza
  • Chicken or turkey skin

You should ideally avoid high fatty foods for a few weeks after the surgery. You will also want to limit your consumption of gas-inducing foods and high-fibre foods such as:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole Grain bread, pasta, and rice
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Legumes

Not all fibre-based foods are bad. If you consume soluble fibre, it can actually help to regulate bowel movements. This is great for avoiding digestive issues after gallbladder surgery. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide a more accurate list of foods you should avoid based upon your specific dietary requirements.

Making the right dietary changes

Now that you don’t have a gallbladder, your body won’t be able to store as much bile as it did before. This means you will need to make some dietary changes to accommodate it.

Ideally, you should switch to having smaller, more frequent meals. These will be much easier for your body to digest. You may also need to avoid spicy foods as these can trigger digestive upset.

Often, it is a process of trial and error to determine which foods cause you the most issues after gallbladder surgery. For this reason, you may find it useful to start keeping a food diary. This will alert you to any patterns linking digestive issues to specific foods you are eating.

Knowing when to seek help

While some digestive issues are to be expected after gallbladder removal, there are some symptoms when you would be advised to seek help. If you experience consistent abdominal pain, severe nausea, or an inability to pass gas for more than three days, it may be time to call the doctor.

These, alongside jaundice and an inability to pass stools for more than three days, could indicate a more serious underlying issue.

For more information on having your gallbladder removed, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.

Throughout our lives, we are frequently exposed to microplastics. However, a new study has revealed that those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) tend to have more microplastics in their stools than those without the condition.

The small-scale study identified a link between microplastics and IBD. While it wasn’t found to be a cause of IBD, further research is required to determine why levels are higher in IBD patients. Here, we will look at what the study found and how microplastics impact our health.

What the latest study revealed

The small Chinese study included a total of 102 participants. Faecal samples were taken from 52 participants with IBD and 50 healthy participants. It was discovered that those with IBD had an average of 1.5 times more microplastics in their faeces than healthy participants. It was also revealed that IBD patients had smaller particles present. Both groups mostly had polyamide and polyethylene terephthalate particles in their stools. These are known to come from textiles, food packaging, food containers, and plastic bottles.

Findings also showed that those with more severe IBD had an increased amount of microplastics in their faeces. However, the researchers aren’t sure whether IBD patients have more microplastics in their bodies due to consuming more, or whether the disease creates them. Additional research will need to be carried out to determine the cause.

Addressing the need for additional research, the director of public health for the World Health Organization, Dr. Maria Neira, states:

“We urgently need to know more about the impact of microplastics because they are everywhere, including in our drinking water. Based on the limited information we have, microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to cause a health risk, but we need to find out more.”

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that typically measure under 5mm. They are contained in everything from our drinking water to the cosmetics we use.

All microplastics are man-made, though they are sometimes caused by sunlight and other natural processes. The sunlight can cause the plastic to become brittle, making it easier for tiny particles to break off. In some cases, microplastics are as small as fragments of dust.

Due to the fact they are everywhere, it is unsurprising that we all have some level of them in our bodies. The question is why those with conditions such as IBD, tend to have more of them in their system.

Could microplastics be a cause of IBD?

At the moment there is no evidence to suggest microplastics are a cause of IBD or any other condition. However, further research is required now that a link has been identified. Larger studies will need to be carried out to determine the root cause of additional levels in some patients.

Those who are suffering from IBD can choose from a range of effective treatments. If you think you may have inflammatory bowel disease then book an appointment with Mr Alan Woodward.

Worried about your anal health? It’s common to be embarrassed about issues with your posterior. However, did you know some anal health concerns can turn out to be serious?

Seeking help for anal health-related issues is important. So, this Valentine’s Day why not commit to loving your bum and seeking help for any lingering issues you are experiencing? Here, we will look at some of the most common anal health problems you may be experiencing.

Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids (Piles) are the most common anal issue most people experience at some point in their life.
Common symptoms of Haemorrhoids include itching, bleeding after relieving the bowels, discomfort, and feeling like you haven’t fully emptied the bowels after going to the toilet. While they can be worrying, Haemorrhoids are usually easy to treat with lifestyle changes, and surgery is rarely required. However, there are different surgery options, including Rafaello technique, which Mr Woodward specialises in. To find out more about Rafaello treatment, get in touch to book a consultation.
If you are not sure, it is always worth getting any lumps around the anus or rectal bleeding checked out properly by your doctor first.

Anal Health – Skin troubles

While skin conditions mostly occur on the face, arms, or legs, they can affect your bum too. One condition in particular that could be the culprit for an itchy bum is known as lichen sclerosus. It presents as white patches of skin and is uncomfortable as well as itchy. While the condition can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed with steroid cream.

If you are found to have lichen sclerosis, it will need to be monitored on an annual basis. This is because it increases the risk of developing cancer of the penis or vulva.

Alternatively, you may be suffering from a less harmful skin condition such as thrush. This causes redness and soreness as well as itching around the anus. It can be treated with a specialist cream, though it will typically go away by itself.

Worms

If you have noticed small pieces of what looks like white thread in your stools, you could be suffering from worms. If this is the cause, you will notice the itching becomes worse at night. While they are easy to treat, worms can spread through the household, infecting everyone in the family. Therefore, you may need to treat everyone in the home with medication.

Anal fissure

Sometimes, the skin of the anus can split, leading to what is known as an anal fissure. This can cause bleeding and pain, especially when you attempt to go to the toilet.

Initially, the pain may be intense before it gradually turns into a deep burning kind of pain. This can last for a few hours after you have been to the toilet. Creams can be used to heal the anal fissure, and laxatives can help soften the stools to make them less painful to pass.

Anal cancer

One of the more serious problems your bum may be trying to alert you to is anal cancer. Bleeding from the anus and small hard lumps can be a sign of cancer. While it is much more likely to be a less serious issue, any problems with your anal health should be checked out as quickly as possible with a medical professional. Book a consultation with Mr Woodward so that you can discuss the different treatment options that are right for you.

Running is a great form of exercise to stay in shape, boost endorphins, and build up endurance. However, it also puts a lot of pressure on your body. Unless you warm up correctly, you could end up with a pulled muscle, sprain, or a painful side stitch. In some cases, you may even develop a hernia.

If you experience a sharp pain in your side when running, it’s important to determine whether it is a simple stitch or a hernia. So, how can you tell the difference? In this blog, you’ll discover how to pinpoint the cause of your side pain.

Is it a side stitch or a hernia?

Both a side stitch and a hernia can lead to sharp pain around the abdomen. However, there are a few differences between the two conditions.

A side stitch, or an exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP), develops as you exercise, typically causing a sharp pain in the side of the abdomen. It tends to occur in the upper part of the abdomen and has been found to occur more on the right side of the body.

Hernias also cause pain in the abdomen, though the pain is typically located in the lower area. They are also accompanied by a small lump underneath the skin. This is where the hernia has pushed through the weakened walls of the tissue.

You’ll typically know if it is a side stitch or a hernia by how frequently it occurs. Side stitches may develop occasionally. However, hernias are constantly there and will cause pain every time you run.

What causes a side stitch?

The exact cause of a side stitch is unknown. However, there are some theories as to why they may develop. A review of ETAP studies has revealed that friction may be the culprit behind the sharp, stabbing pain you experience with a side stitch.

When friction occurs between the outer and inner layers of the abdominal lining, it can cause the membranes to rub together. This is what causes the side stitch to develop.

The friction can be caused by poor posture, eating before running, and consuming a lot of sugary drinks. To avoid them, you’ll want to drink plenty of water while exercising – but avoid gulping a lot of liquid in one go, and instead try regularly sipping water. Also, avoid eating before running, and ensure you aren’t doing too much. Other advice includes increasing your core muscle strength, as well as improving your diaphragmatic breathing.

Other causes of side pain

If you develop pain while you are running frequently, it’s most likely down to something else other than a stitch. Other potential causes include a hernia, constipation, or GI issues. Side stitches will only occur during running. So, if the pain continues after activity and happens quite frequently, it’s more likely to be something else.

If you are concerned about ongoing side pain when running that is difficult to shift, it is important to get a proper medical diagnosis. Discovering the root cause of the problem will help you to know what you are dealing with. If you do have a hernia, then it is best to get it treated quickly. Book a consultation with Mr Woodward so that you can discuss the different treatment options that are right for you.

Have you noticed you tend to experience heartburn more frequently in the winter months? Heartburn, or acid reflux, is a very common issue that all of us experience at some point in our lives. However, for some people, it can be more of a serious, long-term issue.

Those who experience heartburn frequently often find it worsens during winter. So, what causes the symptoms to worsen in the colder months, and what can you do about it? Here, we will look at some of the most common causes and the ways to avoid them.

Avoid lying down for long periods of time

In winter, you may spend a lot more time lazing around and lying down. Whether it is sleeping in to avoid the cold mornings or laying on the sofa in front of the TV; lying down for long periods of time is known to link to heartburn. This is because when you are lying down, it’s easier for your stomach acid to leak through to the oesophagus.

If you do want to enjoy a day on the sofa, make sure you keep your upper body propped up. If you find your heartburn develops at night time, you can also elevate the head of the bed by around 15cms. Lying on your left side will also ease and eliminate heartburn at night – due to gravity, the shape of the stomach, and the angle of the connection between it and the oesophagus.

Keep comfort food to a minimum

Indulging in comfort food is often a highlight of the winter months for many people. However, consuming a fattier and creamier diet can cause havoc on your digestive system. When you eat these types of foods, they also stay in your digestive system for longer. This can increase gastric pressure on the muscle, leading to stomach acid leaking out into the oesophagus.

As tempting as it may be, try to limit the amount of comfort food you consume this winter. Sticking to a healthy diet will greatly reduce heartburn. Similarly, you should avoid drinking excess levels of alcohol.

Remember to keep moving

While it might be tempting to hibernate this winter, it’s important to keep moving. When you don’t stay active, it slows down your digestion and your metabolism. This causes more frequent bouts of heartburn.

Try and maintain a regular exercise routine throughout the winter months. If you can’t force yourself outdoors, try out indoor exercises instead.

Seek help if you experience persistent, severe heartburn

Sometimes, heartburn can develop into a chronic condition. If you experience persistent severe heartburn, then seeking treatment is important. There are a lot of treatment options you can try depending upon the cause and severity of the condition.

If you are concerned about regular heartburn that lasts past the winter months, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today. There are treatments available to help eliminate the symptoms and help you get back to enjoying a pain-free life.

Are you taking part in Dry January this year? Drinking excessive levels of alcohol won’t just leave you with an epic hangover, it can also seriously damage your liver. Abstaining from alcohol during Dry January can help to reverse alcohol-related liver disease.

Many people are unaware of the different types of damage alcohol can do to their bodies. Over time, alcohol can damage the liver in several ways. Here, you’ll discover how to avoid the 3 types of alcohol-related liver damage.

Understanding the 3 types of alcohol-related liver damage

Alcohol can damage the liver in several different ways. It typically causes 3 main types of damage including:

  • Hepatic Steatosis (fat accumulation)
  • Alcoholic Hepatitis (Inflammation)
  • Cirrhosis

Hepatic Steatosis is the least dangerous type of damage caused by alcohol. It is thought that over 90% of those who drink too much alcohol experience an accumulation of fat in the liver. In some cases, the damage can be reversed.

Alcoholic Hepatitis affects up to 35% of people who drink too much. It causes the liver to become inflamed.

Cirrhosis is said to affect 10% to 20% of people, causing the tissue of the liver to be replaced with scar tissue. This causes problems for the function of the liver, making it difficult for it to do its job. Over time, the liver will start to shrink, and it can lead to severe complications. These include portal hypertension, fluid accumulation, bleeding within the digestive tract, and liver failure.

Risk factors to be aware of

While anyone can develop alcohol-related liver disease, some people do have a higher risk factor than others. The main risk factors include:

  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly
  • Long-term drinking
  • Gender
  • Obesity
  • Genetics

The more alcohol you drink and the more frequently you drink it, the more at risk you are of developing liver disease. If you have been drinking for over 8 years and you are female, you are also at a greater risk.

These are just some of the most common risk factors to be aware of.

How can you prevent it?

The most obvious way to prevent alcohol-related liver disease is to cut down your consumption of alcohol. The less you drink, the less likely it is to damage the liver. Start by ensuring you aren’t going over the recommended guidelines. Or, better still, take part in Dry January, or lay off the drink for a longer period of time for more health benefits.

Watching out for the signs of liver disease will also help you to seek treatment quickly if it does develop. These include fatigue, a tender or painful liver, jaundice, and fever.

If you do suspect you have alcohol-related liver damage, seek medical advice as soon as possible. There are effective treatment options available, and like any disease, catching it early will help you to treat it successfully.

When you are suffering from a digestive issue, your faeces is often one of the main things your doctor will be concerned with. As it can be difficult to describe how it looks, your doctor will typically work from the Bristol stool chart.

According to the stool chart, there are seven types of poop ranging from healthy to watery. So, what is normal and when, if ever, should you worry?

The different types of stools

The seven different types of stools according to the Bristol chart include:

Type 1: Hard, separate lumps – This type of faeces tends to develop when you are constipated. It can be difficult to pass and has spent a long time in the bowel.

Type 2: Lumpy and sausage-shaped – If your faeces present as this type, it is another sign you may be constipated. Increasing your fibre intake can help to get it back to normal.

Type 3: Sausage shaped with surface cracks – When your stools are sausage-shaped with surface cracks, they are classed as normal. You’ll find them easy to pass and the poop will be soft.

Type 4: Smooth, soft, and snake or sausage-shaped – This type of faeces is considered the healthiest type. It is easy to pass, coming out in long soft pieces.

Type 5: Easy to pass soft blobs – If your faeces appears like small soft blobs, it could be an indication you have mild diarrhoea. You should notice they clear up over a period of a few days.

Type 6: Mushy, fluffy pieces – If you are going to the toilet several times a day with this type of faeces, you most certainly have diarrhoea. Drink fruit juices and soup to help replace any lost electrolytes.

Type 7: Watery with no solid pieces – If your stools are watery and there are no solid pieces, it typically means they passed through your bowel too quickly. If you experience this type of stool for more than 2 days, it is worth seeking advice from your doctor.

These are the main types of stools you will experience and what they mean for your digestive health. Any changes in your stools should be looked into if they last for more than a week.

What impacts the colour of your faeces?

We covered the different shapes and consistency of your faeces, but what about its colour? Brown is the natural colour to watch out for. However, you may experience red, green, and even black coloured stools.

As shocking as it might be, green poop can be completely normal depending upon your diet. It is often the foods we eat that cause our poop to change colour. If your stools are red and they don’t change colour, it could be a sign of bleeding. This can be a symptom of haemorrhoids, but it can also be a sign of something more serious so it is important to get this checked out.

Haemorrhoids are the most common cause of rectal bleeding, and they may clear up by themselves, but sometimes it is best to have them removed. The Rafaelo procedure is considered one of the best treatments to remove piles, and Mr Woodward offers this procedure.

Black stools can also be a concern, but typically they appear that way after eating certain foods. If foods can’t explain the change in colour, it too could be a sign there is bleeding in the digestive tract. If bleeding is suspected, it is important to get it checked out by a doctor to rule out anything serious. Book an appointment with Mr Woodward to find out more.

Hernias are a relatively common condition that can affect both men and women. While they largely tend to be harmless, they can potentially lead to complications if left untreated. One of the more serious complications to watch out for is strangulation.

A strangulated hernia occurs when the blood supply to the tissue is cut off. Without oxygen, this tissue can start to release toxins, causing infection within the bloodstream. This can prove fatal, so it should be treated as a medical emergency.

The question is, how do you know if you have a strangulated hernia? Here you’ll discover what it feels like and the top symptoms to watch out for.

Common symptoms of a strangulated hernia

To detect a strangulated hernia early, you need to know the symptoms to look out for. The main and often first symptom you’ll experience is sudden acute pain.
As time progresses, the pain gets increasingly worse. You will also find that nothing eliminates it, and it worsens minute on minute. If the pain alone isn’t enough to point towards a strangulated hernia, watch out for the following accompanying symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • A hot or burning sensation around the hernia site
  • Blood in your stools

The symptoms of a strangulation tend to be quite severe. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above alongside severe pain, seek medical attention immediately.

The difference between a strangulated and incarcerated hernia

Strangulation risk is probably greatest with femoral hernias and is more likely to happen if the hernia opening is quite narrow.

Strangulated hernias can present a lot like incarcerated hernias. An incarcerated hernia is diagnosed when the bulge becomes trapped within the sac of the hernia. This can trap part of the intestine, causing issues with passing stools.

While an incarcerated hernia can cause a blockage, it doesn’t cut off the blood supply. This means unlike a strangulated hernia it isn’t classed as a medical emergency. However, if left untreated it can lead to a strangulated hernia.

The symptoms of an incarcerated hernia are similar to that of a strangulated hernia, only without extreme pain. They include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Mild to severe discomfort

As you can see, the symptoms are very similar to strangulation. However, you can typically tell the difference in how much pain you experience. A strangulated hernia is often much more painful than an incarcerated one.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, be sure to get checked out by a doctor. They will be able to correctly diagnose the hernia.

Treating a strangulated hernia

Strangulated hernias are treated as an emergency. Open surgery will normally be carried out to relieve the strangulated tissue. The surgeon will sometimes not repair the hernia there and then. Instead, you will need to undergo an additional procedure, later on, to have it removed completely.

If you have a hernia, it is better to have it treated as quickly as possible. Doing so will prevent nasty and potentially deadly complications like strangulation from occurring. Book a consultation with Mr Woodward today to see which treatment option is right for you.

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