Understanding Bowel Cancer
- Colon/bowel cancer is a real threat. What’s causing this cancer to become so prevalent today? One theory is the way we sit on the toilet.
- Bowel cancer, also referred to as colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer affecting men and women in the United States.
- It also kills more Americans each year than every other form of cancer except lung cancer.
In the United Kingdom, a country that has significantly less people than the U.S., a staggering 42,000 cases of this cancer are diagnosed per year.Read More
A rather interesting theory is that the way in which we sit on the Western-style toilets to defecate could be a cause of constipation which itself is believed to increase the risk of colon or bowel cancers.
“One theory may be that Westerners sit on the toilet to empty their bowel, whereas, in developing countries, it is far more common just to squat,” Dr. Lee explained.
“Sitting is more likely to cause constipation than squatting,” she added.
Squatting, Dr. Lee explained, is the natural position for defecation, “it is fit for purpose in many ways.”
“Firstly, it allows gravity to do most of the work. When you squat, the natural weight of the torso squeezes onto the bowl, meaning there is less need for straining,” she added.
For centuries, humans have squatted when releasing their bowels. The position allows for the ileocaecal valve (the sphincter valve between the small bowel and the large bowel) to naturally seal itself off.
(So called “squat toilets” have also long been prevalent in Japan, though in recent decades, Western-style “sitting toilets” have come to dominate.)
Sitting, as we do on toilets in the Western World, can prevent the valve from closing properly, “making it harder to achieve the necessary internal bowel pressure to successfully pass a stool,” according to The Daily Express.
“When the puborectalis muscle (a U-shaped muscle that attaches to the pubic tubercle and wraps around the rectum) is not relaxed, when trying to defecate, you are straining against it,” Dr. Lee said.
“Squatting is said to reposition the sigmoid colon slightly, getting rid of a kink, and hence allowing it to communicate more freely with the rectum,” she added.
So, yes, it seems that the way in which you sit on the toilet while going #2 can possibly contribute to your risk of developing constipation and therefore increase your risk of bowel/colon cancer.
Understanding Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer, also referred to as colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer affecting men and women in the United States.
It also kills more Americans each year than every other form of cancer except lung cancer.
In the U.K., bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death, according to Cancer Research UK, accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths.
Signs & Symptoms
Many symptoms of bowel cancer are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, so make sure to consult with your doctor.
Dr. Paul Oberstein, director of the Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Program at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet a few common symptoms of the disease to look out for:
- Change in bowel movements — sudden changes to the size, consistency or caliber of stool
- Change in stool color — bright red or black stool is a sign that an individual should seek medical attention
- Pain in the abdomen — unusual discomfort or bloating of the stomach. In the case of women, pain isn’t related to the menstrual cycle.
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss — rapid drop in weight that isn’t the result of diet or exercise
- Anemia — Individuals who feel a general sense of malaise or faintness, or are constantly tired or weak much more than usual, may want to consult a doctor.