Bowel cancer and its rise in young people: What’s the risk?
It’s well and truly time to get familiar with your poop
Whether you have a young family, your career is just taking off or you’re travelling the world, your 30s can be a hectic time of life. For some of us, making healthy lifestyle choices is just a part of life. For others, it can be a challenge finding the time to make positive health changes.
The good news is that there are lots of simple everyday things that we can all do to stay on top of our health.
Having a few quick health checks is so important, even if you feel perfectly fine. Why? Put simply, the following checks are designed to catch conditions at an early stage, when there are no symptoms. That means they allow conditions to be diagnosed (and treated) at a much earlier stage when they’re usually easier to treat and cure.
Your GP (general practitioner) should be the first port of call to find out which health checks are a good idea for your age and stage of life. But, as a general overview, here are the health checks that are important for people in their 30s:
Your GP will want to regularly check your blood pressure from the age of 18. That’s because you can have high blood pressure and not know it, and untreated high blood pressure can cause many other health concerns. It’s a simple check that only takes a couple of minutes.
A blood pressure test measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. This test is conducted in a doctor’s surgery using a blood pressure machine and cuff.
At least every two years.
A doctor or nurse.
Living in Australia, chances are that you’ll develop at least some degree of sun-related skin damage during your life. There are some big sun safety myths we need to stop believing, and while most of us don’t get skin cancers in our 30s, it is possible. It’s important to be aware of how your skin normally looks and see your doctor if you notice a new spot or change in a mole.
A skin check involves your doctor checking over your entire body for skin cancers or suspicious lesions.
There are no set intervals for most people.
For people at high-risk (anyone who’s had melanoma or who has more than five moles with an unusual appearance), skin self-examination should be done every three months and full body examination by your doctor every 6-12 months.
Your GP or a dermatologist (skin specialist).
In Australia, it’s estimated 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, with three million Aussies currently living with depression or anxiety. So if you’re suffering with your mental health, rest assured; you’re not alone.
If you’re trying to improve your own mental health, or support somebody else with mental health issues, Head to Health provides links to trusted Australian resources and treatment options.
A mental health check is designed to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression.
You should seek help if you have concerns about your mental health, or if you’ve noticed changes in the way you’re thinking or feeling.
Your GP will conduct the initial assessment and can provide you with a referral to see a psychologist for up to six Medicare rebatable sessions. Once those six sessions are up, you can head back to your GP to ask for a referral for more rebatable sessions, with a maximum of 10 each calendar year.
Tests to check your risk of cardiovascular disease (which includes conditions such as heart attack and stroke) should be done from age 35 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. Other Australians should start having these tests from the age of 45. Find out about the six modifiable factors you can address to reduce your lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease.
A cardiovascular risk assessment could include a:
Your doctor will also ask if you are a smoker.
It depends on your risk, but at least every two years.
Regular dental check ups, which are recommended throughout life, have wide-ranging benefits. That’s because conditions that affect your teeth and mouth (such as gum disease and tooth decay) can affect your overall health as well as your smile.
This includes an examination of your mouth, teeth and lips. Dentists also usually clean the teeth and gums, and may offer you a fluoride treatment.
At least once a year, but ideally every six months.
Type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia. Tests to check whether you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes should be started in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at the age of 18 years and at age 40 for other Australians. Find out more about the nine doctor-approved ways to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
The Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool is a questionnaire that estimates your risk of getting type 2 diabetes in the next five years. Those at high-risk should have blood tests to check their sugar levels every 1-3 years.
Every three years for most people.
Your GP will ask you a series of questions.
Kidney disease is known as a silent disease, as there are often no symptoms until it is advanced. That’s why a kidney health check is so important. This check is recommended for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, as well as people who are thought to be at increased risk, from age 30.
A kidney health check has three components: a blood pressure check, a urine test and a blood test.
Every 1-2 years.
Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, blood pressure and many different cancers. Checks to make sure you are in a healthy weight range should be started at age 18. There are a number of things you can start to do today to reduce your risk of obesity and associated chronic disease.
Your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference will be measured by your doctor.
Every 1-2 years, depending on your risk.
Men in their 30s are pretty low-maintenance when it comes to gender-specific health checks, but testicular cancer is highly treatable if you catch it early.
Formal screening tests are not needed, but teenage boys and men should be aware of how their testicles normally feel. If any lumps, changes or symptoms develop, you should see your doctor.
Being familiar with the usual feel of your testicles.
It’s an ongoing self-assessment.
Cervical cancer is almost always caused by a persistent infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Current screening methods test for these high-risk types of HPV and for precancerous changes in the cervix.
A sample of cells is collected from your cervix and tested for infection with types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. If the test is positive for high-risk types of HPV, the cervical cells are also examined for changes under a microscope.
Women in their 30s who have ever had sex should continue having cervical cancer screening tests every five years. Cervical cancer screening testing should start at age 25 or two years after first having sex – whichever occurs first.
A GP or a Family Planning Clinic or Women’s Health Centre doctor or trained nurse. In selected cases, women who do not want a doctor or nurse to perform the test may collect a sample themselves using a self-sampling device. It’s is not an ideal way of testing as it is less accurate, but is better than not doing the test at all.
Women of all ages should be breast aware, which means being familiar with the look and feel of your breasts and seeing your doctor if you notice any changes. Being breast aware may improve your chances of detecting breast lumps and other breast changes earlier.
Here’s a guide to performing a self-examination for breast cancer.
Being familiar with the usual look and feel of your breasts.
At nib, we’re committed to keeping you at your healthiest, which is why we’ve put together a list of tips for keeping healthy in your 30s.
We also offer a range of Health Management Programs available at no additional cost for eligible members2.
These programs are delivered by qualified health professionals and designed to be tailored to your needs – whether that's to help get you in shape, keep you out of hospital, improve your physical and mental wellbeing or to aid a quicker recovery after you've had surgery.
For more information, check out our Health Management Programs page.
Everyone’s health cover needs are different. To help you understand what level of cover is best suited to you, get in touch with our cover experts today to learn more about what people like you are commonly claiming on and what cover would be the best fit.
If you’re not with nib, but you’d like to find out more about our cover options, get a quote today or contact our award-winning member service team on 13 16 42.
Please note: This is not an all-inclusive list; there may be other health checks that are recommended based on your age and individual circumstances. The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner. Please make an appointment with your GP to receive advice on the health checks you will need based on your personal circumstances.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk of many diseases, and so are often recommended to start health checks at an earlier age. You may also be recommended to have the tests or checks more often. Please see your GP for personalised advice.
1 Payment by nib of dental benefits is subject to serving relevant waiting periods, annual limits and service limits. Check your cover by visiting Online Services or call 13 16 42. The dental check-up covers an examination (011, 012), scale and clean (114) or removal of plaque (111), fluoride treatment (121) and bite-wing or periapical x-rays (022, maximum of 2 per year), as deemed necessary and appropriate in the clinical opinion of the dentist (dentures not included). The services provided will be deducted from your annual limits and/or service limits. The 100% back offer is not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or government scheme, nor is it substitutable or redeemable for cash. It is only available with dentists who have a preferred provider agreement with nib. nib Dental Care Centres are owned and operated by Pacific Smiles Group Limited ABN 42 103 087 449. The nib Dental Care Centre trademark is owned by nib health funds ABN 83 000 124 381 and is used under licence by Pacific Smiles Group Limited.
2 Available to eligible nib members who’ve held Hospital Cover for 12 months and served their relevant waiting periods. Additional criteria vary according to each program.