Let your facial hair flourish in Decembeard

December is the month when husbands, fathers, sons, boyfriends, brothers, grandfathers, nephews and uncles up and down the country grow their beards to raise awareness of bowel cancer and how it affects the health of men in this country.

For instance, did you know that bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in men in the UK? According to health charity Bowel Cancer UK, around 23,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, with one in 14 diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime.

Yet men are less likely than women to recognise the symptoms of bowel cancer, to see their GP if they recognise symptoms or return the bowel cancer screening test. And while bowel cancer is the nation’s second biggest cancer killer, it shouldn’t be. That’s because it’s treatable and curable, especially if it’s diagnosed early.

So why not do your bit and grow your beard this month? Get your male friends and relatives involved too, and you could help raise money for Bowel Cancer UK in a sponsored beard growing competition while you’re at it.

Boost your awareness

Meanwhile, here are some of the facts you should know about bowel cancer:

  • The symptoms can include bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your stools, a change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason and a pain or lump in your stomach.
  • Several things may raise your risk of developing bowel cancer, including your age (those aged 50 and older have an increased risk), having a strong family history of bowel cancer, having Type 2 diabetes or longstanding inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), or having a history of non-cancerous growths – called polyps – in your bowel.
  • An unhealthy lifestyle can also make your risk of developing bowel cancer higher, so try to eat more healthily, take more exercise, cut down on alcohol and stop smoking.
  • People aged between 60-74 (or 50-74 in Scotland) who have a GP will receive a two-yearly invitation to take part in bowel cancer screening. This screening programme uses the faecal occult blood test, which you can do quickly and easily yourself at home – there’s no need to see your GP or go to a hospital (all you have to do is return your test kit through the post).

Visit the Bowel Cancer UK website to sign up to Decembeard and to find out more about bowel cancer.

Planning to quit smoking? Your local Careway pharmacist may be able to offer the support you need to succeed, including access to products that may help reduce nicotine cravings. Find your nearest participating pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.