SUBANG JAYA: Malaysians need to place more importance on their digestive health and lifestyle, says Health Ministry’s Medical Development Division director Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar.
He said many were unaware that colorectal cancer due to an unhealthy lifestyle was the second most common cancer in the country after breast cancer.
“Look around at what kind of fast food we have now.
“That’s one of the reasons for an increase in non-communicable diseases; it’s this unhealthy lifestyle,” he said after launching the 2016 World Digestive Health Day celebration yesterday.
He said due to the lack of attention paid to digestive health, many brush off the early symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers such as colorectal cancer.
“They’ll say this is normal, I get diarrhoea, they’ll say it’s indigestion, salah makan (ate something bad).
“They don’t see it as sinister but when they are educated about it, they are knowledgeable and they’ll look at it and say this might be a problem,” he said.
He said it was important for Malaysians to take care of their digestive health to lessen the risks of getting colorectal cancer.
“You are what you eat,” he said, adding that Malaysians’ sedentary lifestyle also contributed to the increase in GI cancers.
Digestive Health Malaysia deputy chairman Prof Dr Raja Affendi Raja Ali agreed that many sufferers of colorectal cancer only find out about their disease during the late stages of the cancer.
“Usually it takes a lot of symptoms or signs to be present in them before they even see us (doctors),” he said, adding that statistics showed that only nine per cent of colorectal cancer sufferers were diagnosed at Stage I of the disease.
He said the rising number of obese Malaysians showed the need for more awareness on the importance of digestive health and physical activity.
Nutrition Month Malaysia chairman Dr Tee E. Siong said as obesity was linked to GI cancers, Malaysians should start changing their lifestyle before they become ill.
“People need to take action, start having a balanced diet, have a varied food intake and do physical activities,” said Dr Tee.
Diet and Gut Health was chosen as this year’s theme for World Digestive Health Day.
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