It’s Decembeard! This is the annual campaign to ditch the razor and grow a beard during the month of December to raise awareness for bowel cancer. Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the fourth most common cancer in the UK.

The good news is that there are practical steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of developing this type of cancer. Although age and genetics are a factor, lifestyle plays a principal role in causing colorectal cancer.

Research has shown that by adopting a healthy lifestyle and making informed choices, you can enhance your overall well-being and protect yourself from bowel cancer, as well as many other serious health concerns.

In an article published last month in Nutrients, researchers evaluated dietary risk factors in bowel cancer using data from the UK biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource.

The meta-analysis of 139 foods and nutrients found that white bread and a higher alcohol intake were associated with an increased risk for colorectal cancer. Conversely, dietary fibre, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese were all linked to a decreased risk for the condition.Lifestyle factors and bowel cancer risk

In this blog post, we’ll explore six effective strategies to help you minimise your risk and promote colorectal health.

  1. Adopt a balanced diet: One of the most powerful tools in preventing bowel cancer is maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet. Focus on incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your meals. High-fibre foods, such as beans, legumes, and whole grains, can contribute to a healthy digestive system and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Limit your intake of red and processed meats, as they have been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer. Instead, opt for fish, poultry, and plant-based protein sources to support a well-rounded diet
  2. Stay physically active: Regular physical activity has been consistently associated with a reduced risk of bowel cancer. Engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes per week can promote a healthy digestive system and help regulate bowel movements. Exercise also contributes to weight management, another critical factor in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. Whether it’s brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or participating in fitness classes, find an activity you enjoy and make it a consistent part of your routine.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese has been identified as a significant risk factor for bowel cancer. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Aim for a body mass index (BMI) within the recommended range, as excess body fat, especially around the waist, has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Make gradual, sustainable changes to your diet and exercise habits to support long-term weight management and reduce your risk.
  4. Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake: The harmful effects of smoking on overall health are well-documented, and bowel cancer is no exception. Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, making it crucial to quit smoking for both your respiratory and digestive health. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with an elevated risk of bowel cancer. Limiting alcohol intake to moderate levels (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men) can help reduce this risk and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
  5. Get screened regularly: Regular screenings for bowel cancer are essential, especially for individuals with a family history of the disease or those over the age of 50. Screening tests, such as colonoscopies, can detect precancerous polyps or early-stage cancer when it is most treatable.
  6. Prioritise gut health: Maintaining a healthy gut is paramount in reducing the risk of bowel cancer. Probiotics, found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, can support the balance of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. Fibre-rich foods also play a crucial role in promoting gut health by aiding digestion and regulating bowel movements. Stay hydrated, as water is essential for proper digestion and overall digestive system function.

Reducing your risk of bowel cancer or any chronic health condition can be significantly improved by making healthy lifestyle changes. Call +44 (0)20 4580 1152  for more advice and support on making these changes or to discuss a screening programme that aligns with your individual needs and medical history.

Since it was first identified in the US in 2021, the Great Resignation has become a global phenomenon, with higher-than-expected numbers of employees leaving their jobs since the outbreak of Covid. This partly stemmed from a reluctance to return to in-person work once the pandemic was perceived to be no longer a risk to health and safety.

However, it is also clear that the pandemic has had a profound impact on the way employees view their jobs, their work-life balance, and the expectations they have of their employers.

One study by Indeed in March 2021 found that 52% of employees were experiencing burnout, and another by Gartner published last year found that 65% said the pandemic had made them rethink the place that work had in their lives.

The importance of wellbeing at work

This week has been nominated as Wellbeing at Work Week and is an initiative to spotlight good workplace wellbeing practices. In today’s fast-paced world, where work plays a pivotal role in our lives, maintaining employee wellbeing cannot be overstated.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that their workforce remains healthy, both physically and mentally. One crucial aspect of achieving this goal is through the provision of Occupational Health Services. These services can be instrumental in promoting and maintaining the health and wellbeing of employees.

Occupational Health Services and your employees

Occupational Health Services, commonly referred to as OHS, encompass a range of medical and healthcare services tailored to meet the needs of a company’s workforce. These services can be provided by private doctors’ clinics, in-house medical teams, or through outsourced providers. Regardless of the source, their primary focus is on safeguarding and improving employees’ health in the workplace.

The significance of OHS lies in its role as a proactive measure. Employers who invest in OHS prioritise preventing health issues rather than simply reacting to them. This prevention-first approach has numerous benefits, not least reducing the number of sick days taken by employees. When workers are healthy, they are more productive, engaged, and less likely to be absent from work due to illness. As such, OHS can lead to significant cost savings for employers while boosting their bottom line.

However, the benefits of OHS extend far beyond the financial realm. These services also address the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees, which is crucial in today’s stress-filled work environments.

Furthermore, OHS plays a vital role in the early detection and management of chronic diseases. Regular health check-ups and screenings can identify health issues in their initial stages, making it easier to manage and treat them effectively. This month, we mark World Diabetes Day – as covered in a previous blog, the most recent UK figures suggest that one in three adults are living with prediabetes, meaning they are ‘on the cusp’ of developing type 2 diabetes.

Employers who provide OHS not only contribute to the wellbeing of their employees but also show a commitment to their long-term health. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and loyalty among the workforce.

The importance of fostering wellbeing at work goes beyond the individual employee. It extends to the overall performance and success of the organisation. Healthy employees are more productive, engaged, and innovative. They are likely to be more motivated and satisfied, reducing turnover rates and recruitment costs. In a world where attracting and retaining top talent is constantly challenging, offering comprehensive OHS can be a competitive advantage.

If you’re interested in exploring the value of Occupational Health Services, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to discuss further with our team.

Today is World Diabetes Day, which aims to combat this dangerous disease. Not only is type 2 diabetes severe and life-threatening on its own, but if it is left untreated, it can lead to many serious health complications, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney disease and many more.

The most recent UK figures based on data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) suggest that one in three adults are ‘on the cusp’ of developing type 2 diabetes, as they are living with a condition known as prediabetes, often called borderline diabetes.

Prediabetes: a warning shot

Prediabetes is where blood sugar levels register as higher than usual but are currently lower than the threshold for diagnosing diabetes. This condition is a critical warning sign, as it indicates an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. It is estimated that around up to 10% of people with prediabetes will go on to progress to ‘full-blown’ type 2 diabetes at some point.

Identifying and managing prediabetes is vital. Recent UK research found that women living with prediabetes had more of an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease than men. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and University College London (UCL) analysed data from 427,435 people, split equally between men and women. This included those living with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and those without diabetes.

The study found that the risk of living with raised blood sugar levels is more significant for women with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes than it is for men. Women with prediabetes had a 30 to 50% greater risk of developing CVD compared to women without diabetes. This figure was 30% for men with prediabetes.

Prediabetes: knowing your risk factors

Prediabetes is a state of impaired glucose metabolism, where the body’s cells do not respond to insulin as effectively as they should. This results in higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. Prediabetes is often asymptomatic, meaning it doesn’t produce noticeable symptoms in most cases. However, several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, a family history of diabetes, and age.

While prediabetes itself may not present obvious symptoms, understanding these risk factors and recognising the early signs of type 2 diabetes is crucial.

  • Increased thirst and urination: Excessive thirst (polydipsia) and frequent urination (polyuria) are common early signs of type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels cause the kidneys to work harder to filter glucose from the bloodstream, increasing urine production.
  • Fatigue: People with type 2 diabetes often experience unexplained fatigue and weakness. This results from the body’s inability to effectively use glucose for energy.
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain: Some individuals may experience unintended weight loss, while others may gain weight despite no significant changes in diet or activity. Weight fluctuations can be due to insulin resistance or imbalanced blood sugar levels.
  • Increased hunger: Individuals with type 2 diabetes may feel constantly hungry. This is because their cells are not receiving adequate glucose, leading to a perceived need for more food.
  • Blurred vision: Elevated blood sugar levels can affect the fluid levels in the eyes, causing temporary vision disturbances. Blurry vision is a common symptom and can improve with proper glucose management.
  • Slow wound healing: High blood sugar levels can impair the body’s ability to heal wounds and fight infections. This can lead to delayed wound healing and an increased risk of infections.
  • Numbness or tingling: Peripheral neuropathy, a condition that affects the nerves in the extremities, is a common complication of type 2 diabetes. It can result in numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet.
  • Recurrent infections: People with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to infections, such as urinary tract infections, skin infections, and yeast infections.

Early detection and intervention are essential to manage and potentially reverse prediabetes or prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress, can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes screening is a blood glucose test and urine analysis to measure blood sugar levels.

If your blood sugar levels are raised, lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing diabetes in the future. At GP London W1 we can help you take proactive steps to protect your health and wellbeing.

An ambitious UK health research project has identified that over half the adult population has high total cholesterol levels.

Our Future Health is recruiting up to five million volunteers to create the most detailed picture of our health to transform the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of common diseases. In a report published earlier this year, 62% of women tested had high cholesterol compared to just under 50% of men.

October is National Cholesterol Month, raising awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy cholesterol level and the difference that small lifestyle changes can make to your heart health.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is an important molecule that controls many bodily functions. It regulates hormones as well as manufacturing bile acids, which are used to absorb fatty foods. Cholesterol is carried through our bloodstream on proteins known as high density lipoproteins (HDL) or low density lipoproteins (LDL). The former is often known as ‘good cholesterol’ and LDL as ‘bad cholesterol’, as it can cause blood vessels to become narrowed or blocked.

Raised levels of LDL can increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, angina, and stroke. If cholesterol levels are too high, medication may be needed to bring it down. Whether in conjunction with medication or as a method for managing raised cholesterol levels, essential lifestyle changes can make a difference and our GPs can help guide you on how best to make these changes.

How to lower cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes

  1. Increase your intake of plant foods: rich in vitamins and nutrients, plant foods do not contain cholesterol or saturated fats, which may increase cholesterol in the body
  2. Eat high-fibre foods: this can reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed into the bloodstream from your intestine
  3. Avoid trans fats: any food that is chemically processed can raise overall cholesterol levels in the body
  4. Limit saturated fats: found in red meat and full-fat dairy products, these raise your total cholesterol. Restricting your consumption can lower the level of LDL or bad cholesterol
  5. Quit smoking: smokers typically have lower levels of good cholesterol and elevated levels of bad cholesterol, and quitting can improve the balance
  6. Adopt regular exercise: this is an integral part of lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing levels of HDL

A cholesterol test will measure total cholesterol, LDL, protective HDL cholesterol, and an analysis of your blood triglyceride levels. To arrange a test at GP London W1, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152  to arrange an appointment.

Every year, October is dedicated to breast cancer awareness; in the UK, around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. We know that early diagnosis affects survival rates, and an annual female health check can be beneficial for detecting early symptoms of breast cancer along with the early stages of other serious health conditions.

Your Well Woman Check can be tailored to your needs and requirements, depending on your age, lifestyle and medical history. Essential screening for women can include:

Breast cancer screening

The first detectable symptoms of breast cancer are a new lump or area of thickened breast tissue, irritation or dimpling of the skin, a change in the appearance of the nipples, nipple pain or nipple discharge or any change to the size or shape of the breast. You should see your GP immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

During your breast cancer screening, we will visually and manually check for any of these signs, and we can organise mammograms and breast ultrasounds.

Cervical cancer screening

A regular smear test is one of the most effective ways to avoid developing cervical cancer. It is not a test for cancer but checks for potentially harmful cells that could become cancerous. If your screening detects abnormal cells, a colonoscopy can be arranged to check the cells or treatment to remove them.

High blood pressure screening

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can often cause no immediate symptoms, but it is associated with developing serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

The risk for women increases as they age, and the only way to determine whether you have high blood pressure is to check your blood pressure regularly. High blood pressure can often be managed or controlled by changing your lifestyle.

Bone density screening

Bone density is a critical issue that affects women as they get older. Changes in hormone levels can cause a decrease in bone mass, increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis and making you more susceptible to back pain and fractures. Certain health conditions can make you more predisposed to low bone density.

A bone density test, or DEXA scan, is a type of X-ray that measures the strength of bones. Depending on your degree of risk, treatment can include medication and lifestyle changes to preserve bone density as much as possible.

Diabetes screening

It’s estimated that 850,000 people could be living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes in the UK. Even a mildly raised glucose level left untreated can cause problems in the long term, as high glucose levels can damage the blood vessels, nerves and even organs.

Diabetes screening is a blood glucose test and urine analysis to measure blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar levels are raised, lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing diabetes in the future.

To find out more about the Well Woman Checks we offer at GP London W1, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange an appointment with one of our doctors

The news that presenter Alastair Stewart is living with dementia at age 71 has been covered extensively in the UK media, including the symptoms that promoted him to seek help – that “something up there” wasn’t right and the feeling of being “a bit discombobulated”.

As he explained: “I wasn’t becoming forgetful, but things like doing up your shoelaces properly, making sure the tie was straight, and remembering the call time for your programme.

“I then decided at my age that I might have something wrong up here. I told my doctor I was worried I might have early onset dementia.”

After a series of strokes, Alastair has revealed he has vascular dementia. To manage his condition, he has stopped smoking, is taking long walks with his dogs, and completes word puzzles to improve his physical and mental health.

Alzheimer’s Research UK executive director Samantha Benham-Hermetz said: “Our thoughts are with Alastair Stewart and his family, following the news he has vascular dementia. We applaud Alastair’s brave decision to share his diagnosis publicly and raise awareness, while also urging others to seek help if they have their own concerns about dementia.

“By speaking so openly and honestly about his experience, we hope this will put a further spotlight on the desperate need to find new treatments for all forms of dementia.”

September marks World Alzheimer’s Month, and this year’s campaign theme is ‘Never too early, never too late’. As well as highlighting the importance of identifying risk factors, it also focuses on making lifestyle changes to delay, and potentially even prevent, the onset of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease and diet

Interestingly, recent studies have focused on the link between Alzheimer’s disease and nutrition.

In a new study, a team from the University of California was able to reconfigure the circadian clocks of animals in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s, through intermittent fasting. Current treatments don’t target this aspect of the disease, but there might be other avenues of managing the condition.

Further studies published recently have looked at the link between inflammatory diets and dementia risk and the effect of lifestyle changes, including diet and physical activity, on micro-ribonucleic acid (miRNA) expression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

A healthy lifestyle has been associated with up to a 60% reduced risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, with modifiable risk factors, including obesity in middle age and a sedentary lifestyle.

Likewise, specific diets such as the Mediterranean diet appear to protect cognitive function and support healthy ageing.

For more advice on preventative medicine and healthy lifestyle changes, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152  to arrange a GP consultation with GP London W1.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and about one in eight men in the UK will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and your risk increases with age.

More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year on average. But, the good news is that prostate cancer is often highly curable with early diagnosis and treatment.

September marks Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week 2023, which seeks to raise awareness of male cancer, including prostate cancer.

The prostate is a gland, the size and shape of a walnut, which sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra. Its primary function is to help make sperm, which grows larger as you age. The most common prostate problems are an enlarged prostate and also prostate cancer, which develops when prostate cells grow uncontrolled.

Sometimes, prostate cancer grows too slowly to cause problems or limits how long you’ll live and doesn’t require treatment. But it can proliferate and spread.

Prostate cancer symptoms to watch out for

Early-stage prostate cancer doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. In fact, urinary symptoms such as problems passing urine isn’t usually caused by prostate cancer. This is more likely caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

If prostate cancer has spread, it can cause symptoms such as back or bone pain, fatigue, and weight loss for no reason.

Therefore, knowing your modifiable risks and undergoing regular testing is essential.

A new UK study has established that a ten-minute MRI scan could be used to screen men for prostate. The scans have proved more accurate at diagnosing cancer than blood tests, which look for high protein levels called PSA.

For the Reimagine study published in the British Medical Journal of Oncology, men aged 50 to 75 in London were invited for screening – both MRI and PSA tests – which were carried out at University College Hospital.

More than half the men whose cancer was picked up on MRI had low PSA test scores below which is considered normal, and so would have been falsely reassured they were free of disease.

Professor Caroline Moore, consultant urologist at UCLH and chief investigator of the study at University College London, said: “Our results give an early indication that MRI could offer a more reliable method of detecting potentially serious cancers early.”

Our comprehensive Well Man Medicals encompass all approved tests for potential male health conditions and we also can work with you to adopt healthy lifestyle changes to modify your risks of developing potential health concerns. We also can refer to London’s top urologists for access to an MRI scan.

Call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange an appointment with one of our team.

The government has recently launched a new public health consultation which aims to increase take-up of occupational health services. Employers will be encouraged to offer their employees occupational mental and physical health support, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises.

It is unsurprising that occupational health has become a focus for the government. The latest figures show that the number of people who are economically inactive due to long-term sickness has increased to 2.55 million, and last year alone there were 186 million working days lost to illness or injury. Yet, the consultation notes that only 45% of workers in the UK have access to OH services.

Benefits of Occupational Health Services

The benefits for companies in investing in employee mental and physical wellbeing are manifold; it leads to reduced sickness absence, higher performance and productivity and better employee engagement and retention. And the importance to employees of occupational health provision is undeniable – studies have estimated that we spend 35% of our waking hours working. 

“Work is such a significant part of our lives, so our occupational health work is really satisfying. Our work is broadly split between musculoskeletal issues and work-related stress, depression or anxiety,” explains Dr Fiona Payne. “The latter has been exacerbated since the Covid pandemic.”

Occupational health provider in Central London

At GP London W1, our doctors are all qualified in Occupational Health Medicine and experienced in working with a range of different businesses and industries. The occupational health services we provide includes:

  • Fitness to work assessments: to assess whether an employee is mentally and physically fit to fulfil their role and to support them with reasonable adjustments if needed.
  • Risk assessments: this can cover fitness to travel to workstation assessments.
  • Pre-employment medicals: to assess whether a potential employee is fit for their role and to make recommendations on any adjustments that may be required.

“Many patients can initially be daunted seeing an occupational health doctor,” explains Dr Caroline Wall. “They have had a referral from the management, and they are often concerned that this is a way of sidelining or removing them.

“But this is not the case at all. Occupational health is about supporting people whatever their challenges, and we work with the employer to support the employee so they can fulfil their role by recommending reasonable adjustments.”

For more advice on the Occupational Health services offered by GP London W1, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to speak to one of the team.

Cardiovascular disease encompasses all conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 7.6 million men and women live with cardiovascular disease in the UK.

About eight in 10 cases of cardiovascular disease are linked to preventable risk factors, such as poor diet, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Finding innovative new methods for preventing cardiovascular disease will be an ongoing focus for the UK government as it appoints its first-ever Champion for Personalised Prevention.

The importance of cardiovascular health

Health tsar John Deanfield, a former Olympian and professor of cardiology at University College London, will lead the task force composed of experts from such diverse backgrounds as health economics, behavioural science, and technology. They will review how personalised data and tech can be harnessed to predict and manage heart disease more effectively.

Professor Deanfield said: “I am thrilled to continue my work with the Government on cardiovascular disease prevention. This appointment provides a real opportunity to radically rethink our approach to cardiovascular health and disease prevention. We intend to build an ongoing, life-long programme that empowers people to take control of predicting, managing and reducing their lifetime cardiovascular risk.”

Comprehensive executive medicals in London’s Harley Street

Our comprehensive executive medicals address health risk factors with a strong focus on cardiovascular health. They also go beyond simple screening, as we provide ongoing monitoring and preventative and management strategies.

It comprises several tests and scans to identify any issues with your heart at an early stage, including a coronary heart CT scan. This scan can help to spot calcium build-ups within your heart that can cause causes your arteries to narrow. As well as a heart CT scan, we test resting ECG and cholesterol levels, screen for atrial fibrillation, and calculate your cardiovascular risk score.

Some people may not be aware they are at risk of a heart attack or stroke because risk factors can be silent; you may have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels without having any symptoms.

Our clinic at 25 Harley Street has access to onsite world-class Diagnostics and Imaging. Call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange a medical at GP London W1.

Following on from our praise of parkrun and in honour of National Love Parks Week here in the UK, here’s a rundown of the events held around London.

London has more parkrun events than any other city worldwide and options to run with buggies and dogs so the whole family can enjoy it together. Over 50 parks and green spaces host parkruns on Saturdays in London, including Clapham Common, Greenwich, Highbury Fields, Finsbury Park, and Richmond Park.

But with so many options, how do you choose which one to run each week?

Bushy parkrun was where it all started in 2004 with just 13 friends and is now the biggest event with over 1,000 participants most weeks. Barking boasts a lake and a not-too-taxing path, with the final 200-metres through a tree-lined avenue, making it one of the most picturesque parkruns in London.

Old Deer Park parkrun in Richmond-upon-Thames typically receives a mere 85 runners and is an entirely grass event with some ‘gentle undulations’. Clapham Common parkrun is a two-lap run of the heath with many cafes nearby for your post-run coffee. Probably the closest parkrun to GP London in Harley Street is the Wormwood Scrubs event which is run in the shadow of the infamous prison and boasts a challenging route run entirely on grass.

Click here to see all your London parkrun options

But don’t worry if parkrun doesn’t sound like your idea of fun. “People work out in different ways. Part of what we do as GPs is find out what they enjoy doing and encourage them to make it part of their routine,” explains Dr Fiona Payne. “Personally, I don’t do parkrun, as I’m a long-distance runner and the first 5km is the bit I hate! I like running on my own at 6am in the morning when no one is around and it’s only when I do an event that I’m running with people.”

Dr Payne is doing the Royal Parks Half Marathon this October. Starting and finishing in Hyde Park, it travels through four of London’s Royal Parks – Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.

Call  +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange a GP appointment or book one of our comprehensive medicals at GP London W1.