Jeremy Clarkson health: TV presenter reveals terrifying cancer scare – what is it?

Jeremy Clarkson, 59, is known for approaching all manner of subjects with mordant humour, jibing at various figures in the media and shrugging off the ensuing controversy.

The TV presenter was confronted with a sobering health scare, however, which even he struggled to find comedic at the time.

Jeremy revealed he almost “had a heart attack” after going to the toilet when he noticed red blood stains in the toilet bowel.


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Opening up about the incident in his August column for The Sun, he said: “Well that’s it. I’ve got bottom cancer.”

Fortunately, Jeremy’s panic soon subsided after remembering he’d eaten some beetroot the night before – a vegetables which commonly changes the colour of urine and stools.

Joking about the episode, he said: “Swear to God that stuff should come with a health warning, advising people that it will make your number twos the colour of Marilyn Monroe’s lips.”

According to the NHS, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK and most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.

While, as in Jeremy’s case, the symptoms may not be the result of bowel cancer, it is important to contact your GP if you recognise any of the warning signs associated with bowel cancer.

As the NHS points out, if it’s detected early enough, treatment can cure bowel cancer and stop it coming back.

Blood in stools is a common warning sign of bowel cancer, although in most cases it is usually the result of haemorrhoids, especially if it is bright red, fresh blood, explains Cancer Research UK.

The charity explained: “Piles are like swollen veins in the back passage. These veins are fragile and can easily get damaged when you pass a bowel motion, causing a little bleeding.”

When does blood in your stools signify bowel cancer?

According to Cancer Research UK, blood from higher up in the bowel doesn’t look bright red, instead it goes dark red or black and can make bowel motions look like tar.

“This type of bleeding can be a sign of cancer higher up the bowel. Or it could be from a bleeding stomach ulcer for example,” explained the charity.

If you alert your GP about this symptom it is very likely that you’ll have a rectal examination. This means the doctor puts a gloved finger into your back passage and feels for anything abnormal.

Other symptoms of bowel cancer

According to the NHS, other symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss
  • A persistent change in bowel habit – going more often, with looser, runnier stools and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain


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“See your GP if you have one or more of the symptoms of bowel cancer, and they persist for more than four weeks,” warned the health body.

Am I at risk?

The exact cause of bowel cancer is unknown, however, research is increasingly shedding a light on lifestyle factors that may make you more likely to develop it.

A large body of evidence suggests a diet high in red and processed meat can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer.

In light of these findings, the Department of Health and Social Care recommends that people who eat more than 90 grams (g) a day of red and processed meat should cut down to 70g a day.

Smoking cigarettes has also been shown to increase your risk of developing bowel cancer, as well as other types of cancer and other serious conditions, such as heart disease.

In addition, drinking alcohol has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer, particularly if you regularly drink large amounts.

Another unhealthy lifestyle habit associated with bowel cancer risk is being overweight so losing weight may help lower your chances of developing the condition.

Exercise plays a key role in losing weight and The Chief Medical Officers recommend that adults should do a minimum of 150 minutes moderate-intensity activity a week – for example, five sessions of 30-minute exercise a week.

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