GMB : Adela Roberts discusses her bowel cancer diagnosis

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Bowel cancer is thought to be one of the most “common cancer” types, with 43,000 people diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year. Fortunately, this cancer can be treatable and curable, especially, if it’s picked up early. Here are the warning signs to help you spot it.

When it comes to risk factors for every disease, there are some that can be easily switched up like diet.

With bowel cancer, a compelling body of research established that a diet rich in red and processed meat can boost your risk.

However, other factors, ranging from age to family history, are non-negotiable.

A new meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers has shared that taller people might be “more likely” to develop bowel cancer.

Their research shares that taller adults might also be at a greater risk of developing colon polyps that can later become malignant.

In case you’re not aware, polyps are projecting the growth of tissue from a surface in your body.

While most polyps are harmless, some can become malignant because all polyps are caused by abnormal cell growth and through rapidly dividing cells just like cancer.

This new trial drew on previous connections of height to bowel cancer.

But the researchers stressed that previous evidence “offered conflicting results, carried inconsistent measures of height and failed to include the risk of adenomas, which are precancerous colon polyps”.

One of the research authors explained the potential reason behind this connection. Elinor Zhou said: “One possible reason for this link is that adult height correlates with body organ size.

“More active proliferation in organs of taller people could increase the possibility of mutations leading to malignant transformation.”

To illustrate the findings with numbers, the study found that every 10-centimetre increase (which is about four inches) in height was associated with a 14 percent higher risk of developing bowel cancer.

While this same number was linked to a six percent increase of adenomas.

When it comes to the exact height, the research explains that men who are 6 feet, 1 inch and women who are 5 feet, 8 inches – so four inches/10 centimetres above the average U.S. height – or taller are affected by this increased risk.

Gerard Mullin, associate professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, added: “[The study] builds on evidence that taller height is an overlooked risk factor, and should be considered when evaluating and recommending patients for colorectal cancer screenings.”

However, the researchers stress that this study doesn’t prove a causal effect, it merely “strengthens” the link.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

The NHS shares that the main symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • Persistent blood in your poo
  • Persistent change in your bowel habits (having to poo more, or poo that is more runny)
  • Persistent lower tummy pain
  • Bloating or discomfort (always caused by eating)
  • Unintentional weight loss.

The health service warns that you need to see a GP if your symptoms persist for three weeks or more.

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