decembeardFirst there was Movember, now Decembeard. Yes, it appears that all manner of facial hair is taking on one of the biggest killers – cancer. Raising awareness about the different types of cancer is a vital part of moving society towards both early diagnosis and, we hope, a cure.

As Decembeard is now upon us, we thought we’d explain this next facial hair frenzy, this time raising awareness for bowel cancer, and provide an essential guide to how you can get involved and why it is a cause worth fighting for.

About Decembeard

An initiative launched by Beating Bowel Cancer, a charity that provides practical and emotional help to everyone affected by bowel cancer, Decembeard encourages all who get involved to grow a beard during December to show their support and in turn raise awareness and funds. Bowel cancer is this country’s second largest cancer killer and someone loses their life to the disease every 30 minutes. The lack of awareness around the disease’s signs and symptoms means that unfortunately this statistic isn’t set to get any less shocking, but thanks to Beating Bowel Cancer and Decembeard everyone can do their part in turning this around.

Bowel cancer is diagnosed every 15 minutes in the UK, and if diagnosed at an early stage 9 out of 10 cases can be treated successfully. Growing a beard during Decembeard, or supporting someone who is, ensures that the message about bowel cancer symptoms can be spread further and the funds that are so essential to Beating Bowel Cancer as the UK’s only nurse-led specialist helpline for the disease can be raised.

Spotting bowel cancer

Seeking help or advice from a medical professional as early as possible is the key to treating most forms of cancer successfully, and the same is true with bowel cancer. Many of the symptoms associated with bowel cancer however are often written off as the signs of other, less serious ailments but if the following symptoms do persist for up to three weeks then seeing your GP is important.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • Bleeding from the anus
  • Blood present in stools
  • Changing bowel habits
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • A lump in the tummy

Lowering your risk

According to the NHS, approximately 1 in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer. High risk individuals include those over 60 years of age and individuals with a family history of the disease, however diets that are high in red or processed meat, obesity and high alcohol consumption have been linked to the development of bowel cancer. Choosing a diet that is high in fibre and low in red and processed meats, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and increasing physical activity are just some of the ways to lower your risk of bowel cancer.

Smoking is also linked to many cancers, including bowel cancer, so taking steps towards a smoke-free, healthier lifestyle is highly recommended. At Express Pharmacy, we stock stop smoking treatment, Champix, a medication proven to increase the chances of quitting, relieve cravings and reduce the body’s dependency on nicotine.

Get involved

Getting involved in Decembeard couldn’t be easier, and a number of famous faces, including rugby legend Ben Cohen MBE, football legend George Cohen MBE, actor Stephen Mangan, SAS: Who Dares Wins stars Foxy and Ollie, and director Kay Mellor, are leading the way. Sign up to fundraise via the Decembeard website and access countless fundraising ideas, downloadable resources and inspirational real stories.