Two local charities team up to get Guernsey on board with bowel health
Monday 31 March 2014
'30 days to a new you' is the challenge two local charities have set for five local media volunteers during the coming month.
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness month and Male Uprising Guernsey has joined forces with Bowel Cancer Guernsey to drive home the message that adopting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to avoid bowel cancer. The two charities have enlisted the help of BBC Radio Guernsey presenter John Randall, BBC Channel Island News reporter Penny Elderfield, Guernsey Press photographer Tom Tardif and Guernsey Press sub editors Mark Ogier and Anna Barkman to demonstrate to islanders that small changes can make a big difference to our health.
The volunteers have all been assessed by personal trainer Martin Yabsley of X The Finish Line and HSSD Clinical Dietician Ellie Gould who have drawn up personal fitness, diet and lifestyle plans for them to work to. Throughout April the volunteers will meet regularly with the two professionals to review their progress. 'I spend most of the day sitting at a desk behind a microphone' said John Randall, 'although I try to maintain a healthy diet I could certainly lose some weight and improve my fitness'. Penny Elderfield says although she's reasonably fit she tries lots of diets but hasn't found one to suit her so she's looking forward to getting some sound advice on how to adapt her way of living.
Guernsey Press photographer Tom Tardif said 'No two days are ever the same for me as I work on shift and can be out taking pictures at any time of the day or night so I tend to snack sometimes rather than eat regular balanced meals'. Mark Ogier and Anna Barkman both say that they lead fairly sedentary lives at work as a sub editors at the newspaper. All five are keen to support Bowel Cancer Awareness month and hope that what they are doing will encourage others to change their habits too.
'Both charities are urging everyone in Guernsey to make April the month they think about their diet and lifestyle and make the positive changes that can help to reduce the chances of developing this disease,' says Ann Nippers, Bowel Cancer Guernsey Trustee. 'Anyone wanting to get some ideas and advice can download a variety of comprehensive leaflets from our website or telephone the Health Promotion Unit on 707311' she said.
'Bowel cancer affects both men and women and although most cases are diagnosed in people over 50 it's important to get in to the habit of leading a healthy lifestyle from an early age' said Trevor Kelham, Chairman of MUG. 'That's why we're encouraging all islanders to take up our 30 day challenge'.
"We're not asking people to make drastic changes to what they eat but to think about increasing their intake of fresh vegetables and fruit and reducing consumption of red and processed meat' said Ms Gould. 'The message we want to get across is that getting in to the habit of eating a healthy, balanced diet can make a big difference to your general well being'.
Personal trainer Martin Yablsey advises, 'Various studies have shown that low levels of physical activity can increase the risk of certain cancers plus an inactive lifestyle can lead to other health problems. If you are new to exercise, don't overdo it, start slowly and build up. Walking is a great form of exercise for any one not currently very active. Getting out in your lunch-break or walking to work really can make a difference. Vary your routes to keep it interesting and find someone to exercise with - there's lots of evidence to support the benefits of getting fit with a friend.'
The two charities have worked with local experts to create an online information hub (bowelcancerguernsey.org) where anyone interested in making positive health changes can get on board with bowel health. There is bowel friendly nutrition information, exercise ideas, healthy food swaps and recipes to download.
Plus Bowel Cancer Awareness Month will be supported with a high profile adverting campaign created in conjunction with the two charities and there'll be more activities announced throughout the month.
Bowel Cancer is Guernsey's third most common cancer with around 40 to 45 new cases diagnosed each year. Age, lifestyle, diet and family history are all factors that affect your chances of developing the cancer. Over 90% of people who are diagnosed in the early stages of bowel cancer survive at least five years. An early diagnosis will make a difference to the complexity of treatment required and long term survival rates.
Losing weight and increasing the amount of exercise you do is an important step towards a healthier lifestyle. According to Cancer Research UK there have been many studies looking at exercise and preventing bowel cancer. The largest studies show that exercise could reduce colon cancer risk by about a quarter. By maintaining a healthy weight, the studies estimate that the risk of developing the disease could be as much as halved, compared to people who are overweight and don't exercise.
Thank you to Richard Lord, Sustainable Guernsey for the photograph.