Be it sugar, alcohol or even couch-potato-ing, Kiwis across the country are once again being asked to give up their favourite vice for one month to help raise awareness and funding for the country’s most deadly group of cancers.

The inaugural ‘GIVE IT UP’ campaign was held last March to raise funds to find better ways to detect, diagnose and treat the seven deadly gut cancers – a group which includes bowel, pancreatic and stomach cancers and leads to the deaths of eight Kiwis every day.

The campaign also helped raise awareness that cutting alcohol intake, losing excess weight and increasing exercise can all help to reduce the risk of developing a gut cancer.

With more than 630 participants, and over $100,000 raised, the campaign was such a success that the Gut Cancer Foundation (GCF) decided to renew the call for Kiwis to give up an unhealthy habit for their own health and the greater good.

Taking part for the second year in a row will be Ana Waters, whose 42-year-old sister was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year. She says, “I’d never taken part in any type of fundraising campaign in my life, but GIVE IT UP gave me a way to support my sister while also helping raise money and awareness for the Gut Cancer Foundation, and by extension anyone who suffers from one of these terrible cancers.

“I gave up all added sugar for the month of March and managed to raise almost $3,000, but one of the most important outcomes has been the ongoing positive effect on my health.

“By the time the campaign finished at the end of March I had broken my sugar habit and created new, more healthy eating routines which I’ve managed to sustain. Not only have I helped my sister and the GCF, I’ve also helped myself in the most important way possible.”

For Gut Cancer Foundation (GCF) Executive Officer Liam Willis, the lasting change seen by so many participants was one of the most pleasing aspect of last year’s GIVE IT UP campaign.

“Many people started out just making a small adjustment to their eating or exercise habits. But by the end of the month, they had fully embraced their new healthy lifestyle, with many saying the campaign had resulted in enduring change and real health benefits.

“With eight Kiwis dying from a gut cancer every single day, the funds raised and the healthy living habits created by this campaign are making a real difference to the lives of thousands of New Zealanders across the country.

“Cancers of the digestive system are the most common form of cancer in New Zealand, and they’re among the most deadly. People who are diagnosed will only have a 50/50 chance of living for more than five years. That’s why we’re asking all Kiwis to give up the sugar, booze or sofa this March and help beat these devastating cancers.”

Mr Willis says participants of this year’s GIVE IT UP campaign will be supported with tips and advice from the team at 4 Wheels of Health, the science based 4-week health education course created by acclaimed Kiwi chef Simon Gault and metabolic nutritionist Sean Robertson.

Mr Gault explained why he had chosen to back the campaign this year:

“Yet again New Zealanders are faced with a difficult outlook for 2022. It really is time to embrace any new science and the Gut Cancer Foundation are on the leading edge of supporting such work”.

On the importance of the campaign’s message Mr Gault explained:

“Given we get one body to live in, and we can’t trade it in, it really is time we take note of what organisations like the Gut Cancer Foundation have got to say. We just can’t go and buy new parts for our body, so let 2022 be the year we really focus on looking after the one body we’ve got to live in”

4 Wheels of Health co-founder, nutritionist Sean Robertson, sees the campaign as addressing a key issue:

“Gut health is the most fascinating area in science right now and an area where too many suffer with health issues with not enough help. The Gut Cancer Foundation are taking an active role in addressing this vital area of wellbeing and in the process, greatly assisting the people of New Zealand.”

If you’re interested in signing up to GIVE IT UP for gut cancer, all the information you need is on www.giveitup.nz/