It is really well known that stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer, but much less widely recognised is that diet and exercise also have a big part to play in helping to lower risk.

I am a GP / nutritional therapist and I work in a voluntary capacity as co-chair for Salford Healthy Communities. We were set up to help the Orthodox Jewish community living around Broughton Park to improve their knowledge of chronic health conditions, including cancer and to increase uptake of NHS Health Checks and cancer screening. We are all Answer Cancer Champions and have received grant funding from Answer Cancer to help spread the word.

As Answer Cancer Champions, we have worked to raise awareness in our community.  We have held panel discussions with speakers such as local GPs and Public Health specialists.  These were open to community members and have been well attended.  We have worked with Salford Health Improvement Service and CRUK to bring the ‘Health Bus’ to a local synagogue to speak to men on their way to prayer.  We also have regular stalls at community venues.

One of my best experiences with the team has been in helping to produce a leaflet for the bowel cancer screening test. The uptake of this test had been really low amongst the community, so we wanted to make a leaflet which they would relate to. This ended up being an A5 sheet with a picture of a Jewish family, where the father wears a skullcap and a prayer shawl. It proved to be so popular with the GP practices that some have posted the leaflet out to those patients who have missed their bowel screening tests.  A copy of the leaflet can be viewed below.

Now, with the new Kit test available, we’ve been able to add the reassurance of a single test to the information on our leaflets.

The video here raises awareness of how your diet can help in prevention of cancer. Some of my top tips are:

  • Try to avoid being overweight, by cutting down on sugar in both food and drinks
  • Increase the amount of fibre in your diet, including possibly ground flaxseeds (linseed)
  • Choose vegetables from the cabbage family, including broccoli and cauliflower
  • Add beans and lentils to your food whenever possible
  • Eat foods like berries, mushrooms, eggs, nuts and extra virgin olive oil- which are all high in antioxidants
  • Cut down on packaged or processed foods, like crisps, cakes and biscuits and deli meats
  • Try mini- fasts like the ‘two-day diet’ (where people have greatly reduced calories for 2 days a week and eat a healthy Mediterranean style diet the rest of the time) if your doctor says it is safe for you to do so.

Also, try to exercise for half an hour at least three times weekly.

If you have symptoms which concern you, such as unexpected loss of weight, coughing up blood or seeing blood in your urine or bowel movements, a persistent pain, a lump or a change in your bowel habit please see your doctor. They will want to know about this and to have a chance to check things out as quickly as possible.

Keep safe and well. Best wishes from all the team at Salford Healthy Communities.

Dr Jackie’s book can be found here:

Download the bowel cancer screening test leaflet

Watch Dr Jackie’s video for Answer Cancer