The Irish Cancer Society is revealing the counties in Ireland which have a high bowel cancer incidence rate as it launches Bowel Cancer Awareness month which takes place in April. Leitrim is the second highest rate of bowel cancer across Ireland and the Society is urging people in Leitrim and the other bowel cancer ‘hotspots’ to reduce their risk of bowel cancer by making some small lifestyle changes.
According to data from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland, Cork has the highest rate of bowel cancer in Ireland with an incidence rate of 57.9 per 100,000 per year. This is closely followed by Leitrim (rate of 56.39), Louth (rate of 54.97), Dublin North (rate of 54.49) and Westmeath (rate of 54.23).
The high levels of bowel cancer incidence could be due to lifestyle or genetic factors. The Irish Cancer Society is encouraging people to review their lifestyle to see if they can make healthier choices to reduce their risk.
Research has found that adults who increase their physical activity and have a healthy diet can reduce their risk of developing bowel cancer by 30 to 40 per cent. It is estimated that 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day offers the best protection against bowel cancer.
Physical activity affects the risk of bowel cancer in a number of ways: 1) it leads to regular bowel movements and may therefore reduce the time the bowel is exposed to potential cancer-causing substances 2) it reduces inflammation of the bowel which might otherwise increase bowel cancer risk and 3) it reduces the amount of insulin and some other hormones in your body which at high levels can encourage the growth of cancer cells.
Aside from increasing their levels of physical activity, members of the public are reminded to be aware of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. Bowel cancer which is detected in early stage is treatable and patients can have positive outcomes. Finally, people between the ages of 60 and 69 can also take part in the national bowel screening programme called BowelScreen - a government funded service delivered by the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS). Men and women who are called for screening and who are willing to take part in the screening programme are sent a home test kit called FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) in the post. This test detects tiny traces of blood in the stool which can indicate that further tests are needed.
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