HEALTH: Colon Cancer — get your colonoscopy. NOW!

Solving a Colon Cancer Mystery
By: Dr. Michael Greger
August 26, 2016

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Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. The rates of lung cancer around the world vary by a factor of 10. If there was nothing we could do to prevent lung cancer—if it just happened at random—we’d assume that the rates everywhere would be about the same. But since there’s such a huge variation in rates, it seems like there’s probably some external cause. Indeed, we now know smoking is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer cases. If we don’t want to die of the number-one cancer killer, we can throw 90 percent of our risk out the window just by not smoking.

There’s an even bigger variation around the world for colon cancer. It appears colon cancer doesn’t just happen—something makes it happen. If our lungs can get filled with carcinogens from smoke, maybe our colons are getting filled with carcinogens from food. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Limpopo sought to answer the question, “Why do African Americans get more colon cancer than native Africans?” Because colon cancer is extremely rare in native African populations, more than 50 times lower than rates of Americans, white or black.

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My maternal grandmother died of colon cancer … painfully. My Mom had a near miss that required some surgical brilliance that gave her another 10 years of a pretty good life. I’ve recently had yet another colonoscopy that revealed some suspect tissue that has to come out. AND, I am following up aggressively.

Since it’s a “silent killer” that has no external symptoms until it’s too late, you have to be the Captain of your health are team. 

Yes, it is — without a doubt — the most disgusting test to prep for. I do mine without anesthesia by personal preference. (I like to limit the things that can go wrong.) It’s no more painful than a case of constipation!

AND eat your veggies.

Please don’t ignore this blog post.

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One Response to HEALTH: Colon Cancer — get your colonoscopy. NOW!

  1. While anaesthesia carries SOME risk, I’m pretty sure it’s quite small, and anyone who has ANY doubts about getting the procedure because of worries about pain/discomfort during the procedure itself should simply let themselves be knocked out. One minute you’re lying there looking up at the busy team, then, upon command, you begin counting backwards: ten, nine, ei… and WHOOPS you open your eyes and there’s a friendly nurse with a cup of water or juice and a cracker for you!

    The prep is annoying: I’d suggest the Metamucil option mixed with club soda rather than anything sweet, but use your own taste. And drinking a concentrated version is more palatable than trying a sip a huge diluted volume: you can turn off your tastebuds and hold your breath while gulping down a couple of 10 ounce servings. You can’t do that for a half gallon!

    I had a good friend die from colorectal at 62 a few years back: an amazingly healthy Irishman (here in the US just ten years) who’d go out drinking like a Manhattan Freshman 7 nights a week, and then climb up forty foot ladders to paint and fix roofing trim etc the next morning!. He was charming as hell and left the pubs with a gal on his arm literally more often than not!

    BUT… he never went in for things like colonoscopies and one day he said he his “hernias” were bothering him and finally went off to see a doc. After two days I tracked him down to a post op ward where they’d basically just closed him back up after seeing how it had spread, and he was gone in about a month.

    Very sad. If he’d gotten scoped five years earlier he’d probably still be climbing those ladders and taking those gals home.

    – Michael

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