by Bill Sardi: Growing
Up Poor Helped Make Me Rich
receive inquiries about colonoscopies. People want to know whether
they are worthwhile. Certainly colonoscopy, the passage of a fiber
optic tube into your intestinal tract to examine for pre-cancerous
growths (called polyps) or to directly detect observable tumors
in the colon or rectum, is a hard sell. Not only is colonoscopy
an ordeal for the patient, a weak economy is forcing more patients
to forego this diagnostic procedure as it does cost a few hundred
dollars out of pocket. So is the recent
news that colonoscopy cuts the death risk for colon cancer in half
enough to get 50-plus-year-olds to part with their money and endure
this uncomfortable procedure?
problem is not affordability or discomfort during the procedure,
the problem is that, regardless of what you are told by doctors
or what you read in news reports, colonoscopy offers implausible
are supposed to buy into the idea that detection and removal of
intestinal polyps is life saving. But colonoscopy does nothing to
prevent polyps from recurring. One study reported more
than 40% of the time a surgically removed polyp does in fact return.
polyps equate with cancer? Colon cancer may emanate from flat growths
that simply cannot be detected during colonoscopy. Even the best
trained physician may not be able to detect the smallest polyps
which is the entire reason for the test, to detect precancerous
growth at their earliest stage of development. Even then, the best-trained
physician can miss small tumors in the colon. The miss rate
for the smallest growths (less than 5 millimeters in size) is around
25%. In one
study of 2079 patients who underwent colonoscopy, colon cancer
was detected in 13 patients, 7 (58%) who undergone prior colonoscopy
and whose cancers were missed or were incompletely removed.
are likely to give the false impression that the removal of a polyp
saved your life. But only between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 polyps (adenomas)
are cancerous. In one study, 1235 colonoscopies were examined and
yielded a total of 1933 small or diminutive cancerous polyps. A
pathologist found cancer in a biopsy tissue slide in 10.1% of
small adenomas (5-10 millimeters in size) and 1.7% of diminutive
adenomas (less than 4 millimeters). About 99% of surgically removal
polyps are benign.
recent news that colonoscopy cut the death rate for colon cancer
in half may not apply to the population at large. The patient population
in that study was comprised of patients who were already known to
have intestinal polyps. Colonoscopy needs to be performed on over
10,000 higher-risk patients to save just one life.
detection of colon cancer may make it appear that patients are living
longer, but actually early detection and treatment of colon cancer
just informs the patient and doctor that cancer is there at an earlier
point in time. Typical 5-year
survival rates are estimated to be 45-60% of the patients undergoing
surgical removal of a tumor. Sadly, colon cancer patients are
still dying on the same calendar day.
If the doctor
detects a malignant mass in your intestines during colonoscopy,
survival is only about 2 years regardless of what treatment is rendered.
There is treatment for colon cancer, but no cure. A fact not discussed
with patients is that chemotherapy
treatment cannot penetrate a solid tumor like those found in the
colon. Surgical removal of a malignant mass in the colon only slows
down tumor growth. It is not a cure. None of these treatments deal
with the cause of the problem.
cancer recurrence rate following surgical removal of a tumor
ranges from 4% to 55% and depends upon the aggressiveness of treatment.
Cancer surgeons know they can perform more aggressive surgery that
improves survival removes nerves and surrounding organs that leave
the patient with urinary and sexual dysfunction. Recurrence rate
is reduced to 5-10% and 5-year survival is achieved 70-80% of the
time with more aggressive treatment. But the patient may feel life
is not worth living.
the rationale for screening for colon/rectal cancer is that up
to 90% can achieve prolonged survival if their cancer is detected
in the earliest stage of development. That is the figure that is
advertised. But in reality, about 65%
are detected with advanced disease (stage IV) that has a dire
prognosis (6% survive 5 years).
A more accurate
picture of survival rates is provided by a European
report. In a review of 1073 patients who had undergone surgery
for colon-rectal cancer, only 31 had more than a 5-year survival
rate and 7 lived more than 10 years. Rectal cancer had a 5-year
survival rate of about 5% compared to 1% for colon cancer. Half
of these long-term survivors had no additional treatment.
gastroenterologists lament that only half of the adult population
that should be screened for colon cancer actually undergo colonoscopy,
surveys show physicians themselves, even gastroenterologists, often
donít undergo this exploratory procedure, often saying they are
there is a benefit to colonoscopy is statistically remote. Since
about 25% of patients undergoing colonoscopy have polyps, it would
take about 4500 patients to be screened to find these recurrent
colon tumors if all polyps found were malignant. However, only about
1-2 percent of polyps are malignant, so it would require over 110,000
patients to be screened to find 1134 malignant polyps and at least
3000 subsequent colonoscopies to find another 5 tumorous polyps
over a 7-year follow-up period.
It is estimated
50% of people over age 60 will develop at least one polyp, and discovery
and removal of polyps may give patients the false impression their
life has been saved. Colonoscopy maybe saves 1 in 100 of these patients.
Cancer Society (ACS) set a nationwide goal to increase to 75% by
2015 the proportion of people aged 50 and older who have colorectal
cancer (CRC) screening, but doctors seem to know better. A survey
of physicians in Wisconsin found only
38.2% of doctors would screen a moderate-risk patient.
If there is
some advantage to undergoing colonoscopy, I havenít been able to
Thinking About Prevention of Colon/Rectal Cancer
In my previous
blog I wrote about the implausibility of any benefit from colonoscopy.
So people ask: "what are we to do?" Family members of
loved ones who have succumbed to colon/rectal cancer are particularly
concerned about prevention.
The good news
is that colon cancer varies by 20 times among countries. The diet
plays a much stronger role than heredity. North American and European
Countries have the highest rates, India the lowest. The obvious
factors involved (smoking, sunlight/vitamin D, meat/iron intake)
are mostly ignored by modern medicine. Inherited predisposition
for colon cancer accounts for only 5% of all cases. But this less
frequent genetic form of colon cancer receives great attention.
of all patients thought "cured" of colon cancer develop recurrence
within 5 years usually due to undetected spread of their cancer.
This begs for prevention. Preemptive measures to ward off the occurrence
of cancer appear to be a more productive course than undergoing
repeated colonoscopies which most of the time detect inconsequential
polyps or large invasive Stage IV tumors that have a dire prognosis.
The most promising treatments never address the cause of the disease.
Space is limited
here so I must briefly present bullet points.
increases colon cancer risk by 3-fold compared to never-smokers.
[International Journal Cancer 91: 585-87, 2001]
and drinking alcohol further increases the risk for colon cancer.
Data shows that alcohol and tobacco users developed cancer an
average of 7.8 years earlier than those who had never drank or
- A high-saturated
fat diet increases the risk for colon cancer by 4-fold compared
to a high-fat diet that includes fish oil.
oil, such as provided in corn and safflower oil, is known to enhance
the growth of tumor cells, whereas omega-3
oils, such as from fish or flaxseed oil, have the opposite effect.
This has also been found specifically for colon cancer.
- Mice that
are genetically prone to develop intestinal polyps, a precursor
of colon cancer, hardly
develop them at all when given omega-3 oil.
have demonstrated a reduced risk of colon cancer when populations
with diets high in total fat switched to a diet high in total
fiber and certain whole-grain foods. Researchers
indicate the source of fiber needs to be considered. Bran
appears to inhibit colon cancer more consistently than other
sources of fiber.
grain intake actually increases the risk for colon cancer.
oil also appears to cut the risk for colon cancer in half.
- The combination
of iron and fat in the diet increases the risk for rectal
cancer by 330%! The combination of fat plus high-dose iron from
red meat or iron pills may be problematic.
- In a study
conducted in Japan, it was found that red meat increases the
risk for colon cancer in men and in women, while daily coffee
drinking reduces the risk for colon cancer.
ago supplemental vitamin
C was shown to reduce polyps among patients who are genetically
prone to colon cancer (familial polyposis). When 3000 milligrams
of vitamin C was given to five patients who had rectal adenoma
polyps following surgery. Rectal polyps disappeared in two patients,
regressed partially in two and increased in only one.
50% reduction in colon cancer risk can be achieved by adults who
maintain adequate vitamin D blood levels, but for most adults
in North America and Europe this means vitamin supplementation
will be required.
water reduces the risk of colon cancer in men. Men who consume
the most water have a 92% lower risk of rectal cancer compared
to men who drink less water.
exposure to chlorinated
drinking water (30-40 years) increases the risk of colon cancer.
- Foods with
sugars confer almost 3-times increased risk for colon cancer.
- It has
long been known that blood clots are common among cancer patients.
Researchers now suggest patients admitted to the hospital for
blood clots in their legs be screened as they exhibit a 3
times greater risk for colon cancer.
constipation may increase the risk for colon cancer.
susceptible mice, infection
of the colon increased the number of adenomas by 4 times by
6 months of age. Helicobacter
pylori infection has been shown to increase the number of
polyps in the digestive tract. Crohnís disease, which increases
the risk for colon cancer, is associated with para-tuberculosis
It is obvious
that the state of colon cancer care is deplorable. Much that can
be done to prevent colon cancer either from occurring in the first
place, or from recurrence, is not being put into practice. To survive
colon cancer, you must learn how to navigate around the current
cancer care system now in place.
him mail] is a frequent writer on health and political
topics. His health writings can be found at www.naturalhealthlibrarian.com.
latest book is Downsizing
© 2012 Bill Sardi Word of Knowledge Agency, San Dimas, California.
This article has been written exclusively for www.LewRockwell.com
and other parties who wish to refer to it should link rather than
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