June 1, 2011

I'm trendy

According to the newspaper The West Australian I'm part of a trend and may not be that special after all.

"More young Australians than ever are battling bowel cancer, new data has found.
Recent rising international figures prompted The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to investigate local bowel cancer rates.
The figures, released on Wednesday, found incidences of bowel cancer among all age groups had increased.
But colorectal surgeon Professor Graham Newstead said the number of people under 35 with the disease was "extraordinarily high"."

The article goes on to make an excellent point

"In the younger people, they are not only getting a huge increase in the incidence, but they're dying," Prof Newstead told AAP.
Over the research period, bowel cancer deaths claiming young women aged between 20 and 34 had doubled.
In their male counterparts, fatalities had risen by almost 25 per cent.
"They're dying because they present late and they present late because, if you're 30 years of age, you've got a bit of bleeding your GP is likely to say: `Probably haemorrhoids, don't worry about it'," Prof Newstead said."

The article then goes to make a totally crap point
"Prof Newstead couldn't explain why bowel cancer was on the rise, but said it could be linked to the modern diet "filled with hormones and this and that". 

That's sloppy science communication and does nothing to inform the reader. Are they talking about animal hormones? Plant hormones? My hormones?! What is This and what is That? Actually I think I saw That on a menu once but didn't order it because it was yellow.

I've personally never come across any information suggesting a link between hormones (mine, yours or those from plants and animal species) and colorectal cancer, plus, I have been mostly vegetarian for 6 years.

Is this That?


  1. Wow that really is a crap point! But the West Australian is not known for its hard hitting journalism, so it's not surprising really. And I must admit I didn't even read that far, it was just 'the vibe' that caught my attention, and the fact that the topic made the newspaper... :) xbobs

  2. The vibe of the article is excellent and I am extremely grateful that you sent me a link to this story. In a weird way it feels better knowing that my case is part of some broader trend (although I would never wish cancer on anyone - that is the weird part).

  3. This news was all over Australia. The Tele (who woulda thunk it) had slightly better coverage!


  4. Mostly vegetarian... Ben in your defence you were vegetarian until 'One night in Beijing' when I offered pork to you in secret. Pork breaks everyone don't feel bad, and once you left the love nest of Naomi and I, you went back to being a proper vego. So now all you blog readers know where the 'mostly' comment comes from.

  5. Hi Ben - your blog is absolutely amazing. I've been reading it with a gobsmacked mouth hanging open at your ability to document what you're going through, and do it with humour and grace. THANK YOU!
    I was interviewed for that article in the West Australian, but they didn't use anything I said and used my picture for the story. Afterwards, I was quite outraged at not only the story in the West Australian but the whole nationwide media coverage that the 'young people get bowel cancer too' garnered. On the whole, the medical experts pointed a finger at diet, and alcohol. I resented being one of the faces of these claims! Despite the fact that when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer I was 9 months pregnant, so obviously hadn't touched a drop of alcohol in that time, I was also a healthy, active person who very rarely drank. I felt like people must have been looking at my picture and thinking 'well, if you didn't eat all those Big Macs and binge drink maybe you wouldn't have got cancer'.
    I haven't had the opportunity to talk to alot of other people with cancer, but I know that for a long time I felt so GUILTY about getting it, that it must have been something I'd done, or not done, or had too many negative thoughts about. It wasn't until more than a year after my diagnosis one of the colorectal surgeons looked me straight in the eye and said because of my young age, there was no possible way I could have brought it about, it was simply in my genes. That brought me so much relief. And now, the media kind of brought those feelings of guilt back.
    Also, I didn't like it because I think people reading it would think to themselves 'I don't drink much, I'm pretty healthy, I wouldn't have bowel cancer'. NO. Not the case.
    Sorry for the massive rant!
    Again, your website is amazing :)

  6. Hey Cherie,

    You are very right that it can seem as though we did the 'wrong' things and so got this cancer. Sounds like you got burnt by the newspaper - crappy editorial decisions like that are why a lot of people steer clear of the media.

    Not sure if you saw this, I posted this after reading your comment and to help remove any residue of guilt you may have been feeling:



  7. Hey Ben and Cherie,
    Interesting isn't it what people must think when you get cancer. I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time someone asks if I am going to change my diet and lifestyle? I mean WHAT THE? One month before I was diagnosed you were all telling me how amazing I looked on my 30th birthday and now it seems must have been mis-treating myself?!? Even more interesting is the fact that now I am in remission the same people are commenting that I must have survived through the cancer and treatment because I was so healthy and fit....... huh? Loving your posts Ben - keep up the good work :)