Image Credit: CSIRO / Wikimedia Commons. This image has been modified.

Risks vs. Benefits of Colonoscopies

Though colonoscopies can cause serious harm in about 1 in every 350 cases, sigmoidoscopies, procedures that use shorter and smaller scopes, have ten times fewer complications. But, do colonoscopies work better? Is their total risk-benefit better? We don’t know since we don’t have results from any randomized, controlled colonoscopy trials, and we won’t until the mid-2020s. So, what should we do in the meanwhile?

As I discuss in my video Should We All Get Colonoscopies Starting at Age 50?, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the official prevention guidelines body, considers colonoscopies just one of three acceptable colon cancer screening strategies. Starting at age 50, we should either get our stool tested for hidden blood every year, which doesn’t involve any scoping at all; get a sigmoidoscopy every five years, along with stool testing every three; or get a colonoscopy every ten years. In terms of virtual colonoscopies or the new DNA stool testing, there is insufficient evidence to recommend either of those two strategies.

Though the USPSTF recommends ending routine screening at age 75, that assumes you’ve been testing negative for 25 years since your 50th birthday. If you’re 75 and have never been screened, then it’s probably a good idea to get screened at least into your 80s.

If there are three acceptable screening strategies, how should one decide? The USPSTF recommends that patients work with their physician in selecting one after considering each option’s risks and benefits. For patients to participate in the decision-making process, though, they have to be given the information. The degree to which health providers communicate the necessary information was not known until researchers conducted a study in which they audiotaped clinic visits looking for the nine elements of informed decision-making: discussing both the patient’s role and that role in making the decision, what kind of decision has to be made, the alternatives, the pros and cons of each option, and the uncertainties associated with the decision, as well as assessing the patient’s understanding and whether they desire input from those they trust, and, finally, asking them what they would prefer. That’s the role of a good doctor. It’s your body; it’s your informed decision.

How many of these nine crucial elements of informed decision-making were communicated to patients when it came to colon cancer screening?

Care to hazard a guess?

In most of the patients, none. The average number addressed? One out of nine. As an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association put it, “There are too many probabilities and uncertainties for patients to consider and too little time for clinicians to discuss them with patients.” So, doctors just make up the patients’ minds for them. And what do they choose? Most often, as in this survey of a thousand physicians, doctors recommend colonoscopy. Why? Other developed countries mostly use the stool tests, with only a few recommending colonoscopies or sigmoidoscopies. That may be because most physicians in the world don’t get paid based on how many procedures they do. As one U.S. gastroenterologist put it, “Colonoscopy is the goose that laid the golden egg.”

A New York Times exposé concluded that the reason doctors rake in so much money is less about “top-notch patient care” and more about business plans maximizing revenue, lobbying, marketing, and turf battles. Who sets the prices for procedures? The American Medical Association, the chief lobbying group for physicians, does. No wonder gastroenterologists pull in nearly a half-million dollars a year, and the American Gastroenterological Association wants to keep it that way. Referring to these exposés, the president of the association warned that “gastroenterology is under attack and colorectal cancer screening and prevention may be reduced in volume and discounted.” But, they then go on to share tips for how to succeed in the coming nightmarish world of accountability and transparency.

Why would primary care doctors push colonoscopies? Because many doctors get what are essentially financial kickbacks for procedure referrals. Studying doctor behavior before and after they started profiting from their own referrals, it’s estimated that doctors make nearly a million more referrals every year than they would have if they were not personally profiting.


Serious harm in 1 out of 350 colonoscopies? See What to Take Before a Colonoscopy for all the gory details.

Too often, truly informed consent is a joke in modern medicine. For more on this, see:

How do you know if your doctor is on the take? Check out Find Out If Your Doctor Takes Drug Company Money.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


61 responses to “Risks vs. Benefits of Colonoscopies

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  1. in Korea, they aggressively scan for cancer and colonoscopies are routine for men over 35. I got mine done in Korea at 35 and they discovered some quite large polyps at that time. My GI in the States was shocked I got one at such an early age but said I was real lucky I did.

  2. You didn’t discuss Cologuard test? Why not? Is this an oversight or are you that uninformed about the test favored in other parts of the world?

    1. I am scheduled for my second colonoscopy in June . I had my first one about ten years ago. Had a few small polyps removed . Was never asked about a stool test and when I asked about the risk was told the Dr. has never had one accident or death in any of his procedures.

      I am 75 and will cancel this procedure until I discuss with my Dr.

    2. Did you even read the blog post? Dr Greger mentioned the stool tests, both the hidden blood and the DNA test. Cologuard is a combination test that uses both methods. The DNA test apparently doesn’t yet have sufficient evidence. Cologuard is but one of many brands listed in the USPSTF guidelines that Dr Greger referenced.

      Edward I don’t think you know too much about colon cancer screening. And your attitude leaves something to be desired…

    3. A cologuard test cost $649.00 and my insurance did not pay for it (out of network). I am appealing with insurance co.

      I requested a stool test from my physician who was recommending a colonoscopy. Instead of ordering an fobt, she ordered a cologuard. Being ignorant, I went ahead with the cologuard. Acording to my physician, the result was “negative” with no other information. I requested a copy of the result to see for myself.

      I hope that others will learn from my experience.

      1. Western Health Advantage refused to pay for my husbands Cologuard test. We appealed to the state insurance commission. They upheld WHA’s position saying that they can choose which tests to cover and which not to cover. I had previously been told that if something is covered by Medicare then a precedent has been set for its validity medically and should be covered by insurance. WRONG in this case. We had to pay.

    4. My Gastroenterologist prescribed Cologuard test as a substitute for colonoscopy (I insisted I didn’t want a colonoscopy.) I read about it and decided, like Dr. Greger, that DNA testing is still inconclusive. $650 is a high price to pay for inconclusive results, so I turned it down. And what do you know? 4 weeks later I got a letter from the lab offering me $75 if I went ahead with the test, which required sending them a stool sample. Medicare was going to pay for the test, so why turn down an offer of $75? Because I am outraged by this offer. No doubt my gastroenterologist was also getting a kickback. And Medicare pays for all of this “marketing.” Fraud, that’s what I call it. The credibility of the medical profession is in serious trouble, and they wonder why?

  3. To date, no CRC screening modality has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality.

    Second paragraph, first sentence of the Discussion section of USPSTF’s Evidence Summary for Colorectal Cancer screening, linked below.

    https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/evidence-summary/colorectal-cancer-screening2#discussion

    Seems like it’s a wash unless you’re known to be at higher than average risk. Or am I missing something?

    1. What is recommended for someone looking to be worked up for a kidney transplant? I don’t believe they accept “virtual” but will accept a shorter scope. I’m 72, follow a WFPB diet, never had a colonoscopy. A transplant surgeon told me, if I go through the trouble of a prep, I should probably have the whole thing, as they can remove any polyps they find. I really don’t want any at all.
      A lot of people don’t know that getting a transplant means you are screened for cancer, as immunosupressant drugs de-ativate part of the immune system, which we all try to keep intact to protect us from cancer.

      1. Hi I’m a RN health support volunteer with NF. I’m sorry to hear about everything you are going through. We wish you all the best from all of us here at nutritionfacts.org.
        Keep in mind, information like this questions the benefit of a screening colonoscopy for a healthy person with no symptoms or complaints and no significant increased risk of colon cancer. All of medicine is balancing the risk versus benefit. It is questionable if the benefit of screening healthy people with no complaints and no significant colon cancer risk outweighs the risk. The risk benefit ratio could vary for different patients depending on things like family history.
        You undergoing a kidney transplant which will require immunosuppressive drugs which do increase the risk of cancer may put you in a different category than the general public. Your risk benefit ratio may be significantly different.
        I would suggest you discuss your concerns with your physician. Mention that you’ve looked at some of the research which questions the benefit of screening colonoscopies. Your
        doctor will have heard of it. Ask what your risks of having the colonoscopy versus the benefits are. Really the point of this discussion is not to discourage everyone from having colonoscopies. It is to provide information that unfortunately is sometimes neglected by a busy physician who is pressured to see 30 patients a day in 15 minute appointments. But patients should be given all the information so they can make the best decision for them. Not just be told, time for you colonoscopy.

        All the best to you.
        NurseKelly

      2. Thank you. Do immunosuppressant drugs only place you at a future risk. is a colonoscopy (full one) necessary for a possible future risk? More generally, what are the real risk of the immuno-suppressant drugs? The medical field seems to push transplants, but they don’t always work, eventual or immediate rejection, surgery complications, etc. Besides my WFPB vegan diet, have tried various herbs, but nothing seems to work. I guess no diet is a cure for evryone or everything. Haven’t seen that Dr Greger has any recommendations for this stage of CKD, stage 5.

  4. I’m going for a colonoscopy in 3 weeks. I’m 57, had 3 polyps removed last time (5 years ago) and am having some other GI issues (chronic constipation etc.). I think in my case, it is justified, but now I’m wondering.

    1. You need to change to WFPB, Whole Food Plant Based eating. No more constipation plus dozens of other benefits. I’m 75 and take no meds after 1 1/2 years of Plant Based eating. If it grows in the earth, I eat it. If it has legs, a face, or a mother, I eliminate it.

      1. I already am and have been for 4 months. I had a heart attack and have been constipated since then. Probably due to amirodiane which I no longer take, but it takes up to a year to get out of your system. I eat 40 – 80 grams of fiber a day, and barely go. That’s why I have iron issues as well.
        Malabsorption.

        1. I’m surprised that you only get 40 grams of fiber on a WFPB diet. I’m between 90 and 100. If you had a heart attack at 57 then you probably ate a pretty SAD diet for most of your life. So it’s going to take a lot longer than 4 months to repair everything I would think. And it’s not just your heart arteries that are clogged. So GI arteries are going to need time to heal too and clear themselves out. And you’re going to have to give the right WFPB gut flora time to populate. You’re doing good but give it some more time.

        2. Jon, Congratulations for going WFPB!

          Hoping that it will bring you relief eventually.

          I am not a medically minded person, so don’t listen to me at all, but, my internal questions are:

          Do you eat oats versus instant oatmeal?

          Do you eat flax seeds?

          Do you eat foods like Spinach and Chard and Almonds for Magnesium or have you been
          tested and found out if you are deficient with your absorption issues?

          Do you drink enough water?

          Do you eat or drink too much caffeine – soda, coffee, chocolate?

          Have you been eating a wide enough variety of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and beans, to fix your gut microbiome?

          I know one person who told me that she had fixed her diet, but still had bathroom problems and it turned out she was missing one bacteria and needed prebiotics and probiotics according to her naturopath/MD, who tested her. I know there are things Dr. Greger talked about like drinking a glass of soy milk every day and eating variety within WFPB.

          LOL! You might need to go to vegan’s houses and pet their dogs or have a 30 minute kissing session, but somebody might get mad at you about that advice, so pet the dog and use their bathroom might be enough.

          1. Do you eat oats versus instant oatmeal? whole oats.

            Do you eat flax seeds? yes

            Do you eat foods like Spinach and Chard and Almonds for Magnesium or have you been
            tested and found out if you are deficient with your absorption issues? I eat tons of greens. Waiting to be tested, but I had a stomach bleed from Effient and that plunged my iron. It’s still not normal, but is getting higher. I lost too much weight too fast (couldn’t eat due to the constipation and meds from heart attack), and that probably started the spiral.

            Do you drink enough water? Yes, at least 8 bottles (12 oz) a day, more usually.

            Do you eat or drink too much caffeine – soda, coffee, chocolate? zero

            Have you been eating a wide enough variety of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and beans, to fix your gut microbiome? yes, I use the daily dozen app and cronometer.

    2. If you do not already do it, try adding DAILY USAGE of Metamucil to your diet. My brother was under the care of a gastroenterologist for several years until his problem finally was cured. At the end of the Doctors care his Doc said “From NOW ON I want you to use Metamucil (or it’s cheaper Generic Equivalent) for the REST of your life on a daily basis. If young people started doing this at age 25 I’d see FAR FEWER PATIENTS than I do now”. I also adopted his advice even though I’ve never had any bowel issues and believe me it makes a Bowel movement meet all the basic requirements for a “healthy” movement. May very well cure” your constipation issues! Good Luck!

      1. “If you do not already do it, try adding DAILY USAGE of Metamucil to your diet.”

        IMO, whole psyllium seed (soaked) is better than Metamucil, which is just psyllium seed husks. Also Acacia gum fiber (powder) and Inulin. I mix all 3 together: whole psyllium seeds, acacia gum fiber (powdered), and inulin, with a lot of water and let it soak.

        I also eat a WFPB diet along the lines of what Dr. Greger, Dr. McDougall, Dr. Fuhrman and others recommend.

        Whole psyllium seed (soaked) has been shown in scientific studies to increase the amount of short chain fatty acids in the colon, such as butyrate, which nourish the colon cells and keep them healthy.

        In one study, the researchers gave those with ulcerative coliltis 1 tablespoon, twice a day, of soaked whole psyllium seeds, which increased short chain fatty acids in the colon and improved their ulcerative colitis.

        1. Plain old oat bran might be cheaer still. In this study (among older people)

          “CONCLUSIONS:
          Use of oat-fiber allowed discontinuation of laxatives by 59% while improving body-weight and wellbeing of the seniors. Fiber supplementation is a safe and convenient alternative to laxatives in a geriatric hospital.”
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19214342

        2. I’m a bit surprised anyone on a WFP diet (i.e not just “-based” but entirely plants) would need supplemental fiber. Tracking my diet on cronometer, I find I get between 70-100 grams of fiber depending on the calories (2000-2400). I cannot imagine ingesting more fiber. I don’t doubt you need the extra fiber, but I am curious how much you get in your diet.

  5. Interesting comments on colonoscopies. My experience was different. I had a + test on a stool for blood one time, and a relative who died of colon cancer. Got scheduled for a colonoscopy and the gastroenterologist tried to talk me out of the colonoscopy just before he was about to do it. His reasoning was (trying to quote him here) “you are very athletic, this will be a negative study, you do not need it”. The test was negative, I will get another 10 years after that one, but I have been puzzled ever since by his comment. BTW after doing the prep (!) no way I was going to not do the test. OMG that stuff is nasty.

  6. Several years ago, in my forties, I went to my doctor because of fatigue. She did some bloodwork. My vitamin D was liw, as was my iron. On the basis of the low iron, she recommended a colonoscopy, since it could be due to intestinal bleeding. (Back then, I was rather blind in my trust of the medical establishment, and not as informed, otherwise I’d have refused the colonoscopy and suggested a stool exam first.) I got the colonoscopy, and 3 polyps were removed. They were benign.

    I don’t intend to do another colonoscopy, but I’ll do the stool exam.

    I do wonder, how often are these colon polyps actually dangerous? How many people get a colonoscopy and there are zero polyps?

    The wife of my husband’s co-worker had a routine colonoscopy and her colon was perforated, leading to a cascade of serious medical treatment, bills, stress. I’d rather avoid that!
    I’ve never had GI issues, but after that colonoscopy, it took a while to get my gut flora back from being wiped out.

  7. I read the blog and enjoyed it, and haven’t had a chance to watch the video yet. This is certainly germane to me, as I am over fifty and have been weighing the best approach. ONE QUESTION I am still wondering about: for stool tests–are the over-the-counter tests as effective as those that a doctor’s office typically provides? I have tried several of the over-the-counter, and they are easy, convenient, and inexpensive, so just wondering about efficacy. ALSO, I have a friend who is a malpractice attorney and she has a very interesting perspective on the topic of colonoscopies. They are her number source of clients, and she has seen many, many horrible complications, so at a bare minimum she advises understanding the risks and not going into colonoscopies blindly, unaware of what can happen.

      1. “usually not considered appropriate@

        I will have to start proof-reading my comments before posting but oh for an edit function for posts.

    1. The over the counter home stool tests are largely fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) that look for a certain type of blood in the lower part of the colon. Abnormal tests prompt colonoscopy. One time use of FIT misses many lesions in the colon. Repeated use (at least three times) catches more (about 70%). There’s a doctor prescribed home test that uses FIT plus DNA testing to look for cancers. It leads to more diagnosis, but also causes false positives, where the test is abnormal but no lesion is found on colonoscopy. Considering pros and cons and misses and overcalls of the various screening options is important. If you do not wish colonoscopy due to its potential risks, repeated FIT is considered a good screening option. -Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

  8. I can’t imagine not having periodic colonoscopies if a previous test had discovered polyps. Polyps are a definite warning. Don’t ignore it.

    I had a colonoscopy 10 years ago (no polyps) and will refuse further colonoscopies ( I’m soon to be 75 and have had a WFPB diet the past 5 years). Had polyps been previously found, I’d have a different opinion about the test.

  9. The last paragraph is puzzling. It implies that primary care physicians receive a financial kickback for a referral to a gastroenterologist but the article cited discusses an increase in pathological services (biopsies) from self- referred physicians (I’m assuming gastroenterologists). It appears to be an unfair and incorrect statement against primary care physicians.

    1. I am a primary care doctor and I can promise all readers that primary care doctors do not receive any kickbacks for referring for colonoscopy

    2. “The last paragraph is puzzling. It implies that primary care physicians receive a financial kickback for a referral to a gastroenterologist but the article cited discusses an increase in pathological services (biopsies) from self- referred physicians (I’m assuming gastroenterologists).”

      I also found that to be puzzling, and I went to the article and found the same thing you did.

  10. With so many money motivated interventions, why do people have trust? If the more stones you turn, the higher the hidden money scams found, why trust the established system? Who oversees and protects the consumer and who is responsible if any?

  11. I’ve had 30+ colonoscopies since colon cancer at age 37. It was found on a routine physical…quite a shock! Since then I follow the recommended guidelines for greater risk individuals. Trust your doctor until he/she gives you reason not to.

  12. One detail that I think deserves mention is that these studies discuss averages, but there is a great difference in the skills, experience and outcomes of GEs doing colonoscopies, and the same goes for anesthesiologists. This is true, obviously, in every other specialty. Patients need to proactively investigate the background/record of their doctors.

  13. I got my first colonoscopy because a stool test showed blood. And I did have polyps. Only Colonoscopies can remove polyps, not stool tests, nor sigmoidoscopies. And stool tests don’t always show when polyps are there. For instance, before the next time I did a repeat Colonscopy, the stool tests were negative, but I still had polyps at my repeat Colonoscopy. My last one I did recently, I still had one polyp. I do think Colonoscopies are worth the cost. Other systems save money in some ways that cut the quality of care.

  14. Ron in New Mexico

    There are two things strange about the studyyou posted yesterday: https://animalscience.tamu.edu/2013/12/07/ground-beef-from-grass-fed-and-grain-fed-cattle-does-it-matter/

    First: there is no mention on conjugated linoleic acid.

    Second: Trans fat and sat fat are bundled together. I believe I have read that conjugated linoleic acid is considered a trans fat even though many people think it is quite beneficial. NOTE: Industrial conjugated linoleic is believed to be HARMFUL. It is only the conjugated linoleic acid produced in the rumen that may be beneficial.

    1. Ron in New Mexico

      There is a third thing screwy about the study. It talks about the amounts of ALA in meat. THERE IS NO ALA IN MEAT, only DHA and EPA.

      Was this “study” a put on? My guess the professor had a sophomore write it and he didn’t pay much attention to it. Anyway with three ridiculous errors, I see no reason to believe anything it says.

    2. Sydney

      I have read those stories too. However, I have also read studies that show that, in terms of hard outcomes like coronary heart disease, there are no differences between industrial and ruminat CLAs .

      “we have reviewed data describing the associations between absolute intake (g eaten per day) of ruminant and industrial trans fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease, and examined the associations graphically.

      Where direct comparison is possible, there are no differences in risk of coronary heart disease between total, ruminant and industrial trans fatty acids for intakes up to 2.5 g/d. At higher intakes (more than 3 g/d) total and industrial trans fatty acids are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease but there is insufficient data available on ruminant trans fatty acids at this level of intake.

      The scarce data do not support discrimination between ruminant and industrial trans fatty acids in dietary recommendations or legislation.”
      https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ejlt.200300932

  15. “Colorectal polyps are commonly found during standard screening exams of the colon (large intestine) and rectum (the bottom section of your colon). They affect about 20% to 30% of American adults. Polyps are abnormal growths that start in the inner lining of the colon or rectum.

    While the majority of polyps will not become cancer, certain types may be precancerous. Having polyps removed reduces a person’s future risk for colorectal cancer.

    Removal of colorectal polyps is advised because there is no test to determine if one will turn into cancer.”

    excerpted from
    The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website

    So, it seems to me that lots of harmless polyps are treated/removed, and that puts you on the list for more frequent screening.
    It’s like with mammograms, lots of harmless lumps get treated just in case they might become cancerous in the future.

    It comes down to weighing the pros and cons of screening of any sort.

  16. I’m 77 and had my first colonoscopy at 75 after a home stool test showed blood. Two polyps were removed. I have Atrophic Gastritis and was found to have iron deficiency anemia at my last annual exam, which should not happen at my age. I saw a gastroenterologist but instead of seeing him, his FNP did the exam and did a rectal exam. No blood found and I have no symptoms. When the FNP relayed the info to the G.E., he still recommended a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, without waiting for blood test results after I’ve been on an iron supplement for a couple of months. I’ve been lacto vegetarian for 48 years with very little intake of dairy and a very high intake of greens and other veggies. Until the G.E. can find something really wrong with me, I will not submit to another colonoscopy. Upper GI endoscopy is recommended for my condition, as there can be gastric tumors.

    1. thank you for your response. Seems to be benefits and risks for everything. If it wasn’t for the transplant requirement, I wouldn’t have any procedure. And I’m not sure about a transplant, due to the risk of cancer.

  17. Dr G: “In terms of virtual colonoscopies or the new DNA stool testing, there is insufficient evidence to recommend either of those two strategies.” I missed the part explaining why not do the DNA testing.Thanks!

  18. My husband asked our doctor for the stool test rather than a colonoscopy. She agreed and prescribed it… then the bill came. Western Health Advantage refused to pay for it. We appealed their denial within the company and at the state level but were unsuccessful. It is covered by MediCare and over 40 other insurance companies in CA at a cost of about $650. We figured that because our doctor prescribed it, and his family background suggests that it is a safer test than colonoscopy for him there would be no problem; we were wrong. Moral of the story: Get a pre-authorization from your insurance company.

    1. Jennifer,

      The stool testing companies have very specific guidelines and clearly indicate the need for preauthorization and no Medicare coverage in their literature…… perhaps a talk to the prescribers office or have you discussed the cost directly with the lab ? Many have cash only pricing…might be worth pursuing.

      Dr. Alan Kadish Health Support volunteer for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com

  19. Joy,

    There are two principle reasons that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) was less than totally enthusiastic. Keep a perspective as their research was based on old work and published in 2013……it appears that the assessment of the dna testing was based on much older work and perhaps should be reassessed with the next generation of tests.

    As a note you might find Archived: Table 2. interesting as the sensitivity and selectivity of the tests paints a clear picture between the colonoscopy vs other screening tests.

    In reference to the task force concluded:
    Fecal DNA
    Potential Preventable Burden
    Fecal DNA has potential as a highly specific test, and it could reduce harms associated with follow-up of false-positive test results.

    Current Practice
    Fecal DNA tests are evolving, and no test is widely used. (Study was published in 2013, done prior)

    Costs
    Fecal DNA is likely to have a high monetary cost per test.

    The high monetary cost is indeed a consideration, even today, as many insurance companies refuse to reimburse. (See Jennifer’s comments below)

    Dr. Alan Kadish Health Support volunteer for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com

    1. Thank you. I was not properly informed by my doctor and went with the DNA test. I get results tomorrow. I sure hope I am not one of the false positives. The only reason I did the test at all was because I was being pressured so much by my doctor to have a colonoscopy even though no one in my family has ever had any issues with colon cancer. I’m the youngest of five children and have been on a plant-based diet for years, I’m 5’2″ and 98 pounds, and I also read that colonoscopies have more issues with small females. Crossing fingers this is the end of it and next time I will just have a FIT test. Thanks again I appreciate your help.

  20. I’m nearly 69, on Meficare, a vegan for almost 20 years, and have had two free occult blood tests in the past two years which I do via the USPS. I don’t trust the medical system enough to submit to a risky colonoscopy.

  21. As far as I’m concerned colonoscopies are far too risky. Dr. John McDougall said many years ago that one should have a signoid done when you’re around 55-60 I believe. If that is “clean” than eat right doing a WFBP diet. Lots of veggies, starches,greens, beans,etc. And DON’T have a colonoscopy because of the risks involved. According to Dr. McDougall a signoid has hardly any risk at all, and if they’re going to find something it’s usually in that part of your colon. A colonoscopy for one has the risk of perferating your colon. And it that happens—you’re in big trouble.
    I had a signoid when I was around 55 right in the doctor’ office. I came out “clean.” But the bowel prep was horrible. The cramping was awful. I suffered most of the day. And when it was all over I said to myself two words “NEVER AGAIN.”
    I had another good friend who had her first colonoscopy many years ago and said those same two words–never again.
    Today we eat a WFBP diet religiously. Oatmeal for breakfast, large salads for lunch, and soups, chili’s, and stews loaded with beans and other goodies for dinner. My hubby had a few colonoscopies some years ago. He’s decided he’s done with the process. So we both figure if we eat right, we don’t need them.

  22. You’re right I don’t trust the medical community either. About a year ago I had to go to a doctor because I was having some hair loss. My mother had low thyroid and I knew that could be inherited, and that it did cause hair loss. So after almost TEN YEARS OF NOT GOING, I bit the bullet and went. The part-time dermatologist who used to be my primary care doctor, told me it was alopecia and genetic. But he did prescribe some lotion to stop the hair loss. He also tested my blood for low thyroid and said I was borderline. So he recommended a new doctor to keep an eye on my thyroid. So reluctantly I went.

    Well the “new” doctor did repeat blood work and said he didn’t want to treat it, because I was borderline. Great! BUT when he found out—because I unfortunately opened my BIG MOUTH and told him I hadn’t seen a doctor in over 10 years—guess what he wanted to do?

    IMMEDIATELY he wanted to sign me up for mammogram’s, a colonoscopy, and more. Guess what I did? I REFUSED THEM ALL. He kept saying “Don’t you want to know?” Well, as far as I was concerned I ALREADY knew. My way of eating, plant based has kept me free from ailments and diseases all my friends have.

    So do I trust doctors? NO!! ardeth: you’re right not to trust medical doctor’s. After I got educated as to how powerful food is at keeping you healthy I decided to limit my doctor visits to hardly ever going unless absolutely necessary. Dr. McDougall has an article titled “The annual physical, a ritual to be avoided.” He’s right.

  23. For me (located in the United States), insurance covers a colonoscopy (preventative maintenance) and my doctor indicated I could choose another method, but if results were positive a colonoscopy would be the next step and then it would no longer be covered by insurance because then it would no longer fall under preventative maintenance.

  24. Have your client ask her doc for the published clinical study that supports this advice. In any case, I suggest you find a functional medicine or preventive medicine doc that is familiar with the benefits of an unprocessed WFPB diet and get your client to see this type of doc for some evidence based treatment.

    Dr. Ben

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