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5 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Colonoscopy

Do I Really Need a Colonoscopy

I confess, when I turned 50 I had a Colonoscopy. But I doubt I’ll have another.

I had no problems with my procedure and the doctor was great, but like so many other medical screening procedures, I have come to question whether they are really for our benefit or just another profit maker for Big Medicine.

The older I get, the more I question everything – especially in mainstream medicine. Since both my grandfathers and my uncle were doctors, I was conditioned to conform to most medical directives, from vaccinating my children, to routine mammograms.

I used to be such a good girl. Now I’m more of a rebel…I’m certain if there are death panels in our new medical paradigm, I’m a marked woman. But here I go again – challenging the medical mantra for cancer screening colonoscopies.

Are Colonoscopy Screenings Really Necessary?

After knowing what I know about the business of Big Pharma, the amount of deaths and injuries caused by conventional medicine and nutrition for cancer prevention, my answer is – no.

According to the article Death by Medicine,

“…the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US.”

Don’t you think it’s strange that natural medicine is constantly under assault, but every day 2,147 people die from conventional medicine? Be careful out there people! Don’t believe me? You’ll find all the documentation you need in the links to the Death by Medicine article.

If you think a colonoscopy is right for you, you should get one. But there are some things you might want to know before you do.

5 Things You Should Know About Colonoscopies

Like many situations in mainstream medicine, things may not be what they seem. It’s important to ask questions and dig deeper before you go through with any medical procedure. Here are five reasons to think twice before getting a colonoscopy:

  1. They’re expensive. Thanks to insurance billing, most of us have lost touch with medical costs and never even know what a procedure costs. If insurance covers it, everything’s great, right? No! Colonoscopies in other countries $100 to $1,000. According to this article in the New York Times, the costs are considerably higher – from $4,156 in Seattle to $8,577 in New York. With approximately 15 million people getting them every year, that’s a lot of money.
  2. The benefits of a colonoscopy depend on where the screening procedure takes place. And more importantly, who is performing the exam. You may not want a family doc or an internist doing the exam. According to Dr. Mercola, “Family physicians and internists were 77 percent more likely than gastroenterologists to miss the cancer in men and 85 percent more likely to miss it in women.” If you have it done, stick with a qualified gastroenterologist with good credentials.
  3. The procedure has significant risks. You’ll read more on colonoscopy hazards in this article from The Healthy Home Economist, written by Kaayla P. Daniel, PhD, CCN, but here are some possible risks you may not know about:
    • Perforation of the colon – this can happen at any time during the procedure and some people are at higher risk than others (those with diverticulitis, colonic diseases and anyone with adhesions from pelvic surgeries like hysterectomies.)
    • The process of cleaning out your intestinal tract prior to the procedure is not without its downfalls. These include, dysbiosis, irregular stool patterns, reactions to oral sodium phosphate or sodium biphosphate (the substance used to clean you out) like acute phosphate nephropathy (rare – but it does happen!) Check out the side-effect warnings on Visicol® and Fleet Enema, Fleet Enema for Children and OsmoPrep.
    • Colonoscopy risks Increase with Age and Illness. Yes, if you’re over 80 and/or you have a history of stroke, diabetes, heart failure or atrial fibrillation, you should seriously evaluate the risk factors for this procedure. And, in another article cited below, it showed that for seniors over 70, almost 24% of the colonscopies done were “potentially inappropriate.”

4. Avoid having it done under anesthesia. In 2003 only 14% of people had an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist administer the anesthesia, by 2009 it went up to 30%. Why the increase? It makes more money for the clinic by saving the gastroenterologist time so they can perform more procedures in a day. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t give me confidence to know my doctor is speeding through a procedure.

5. There’s no guarantee you won’t get colorectal cancer. In fact, from the National Cancer Institute said in 2008, “…It is not yet known for certain whether colonoscopy can help reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer.” In another article from the New York Times, Colonoscopies Miss Many Cancers, Study Finds, reveals that this procedure can miss a lot of cancers. You should never be lulled into a false sense of security with any screening.

I came across this article, The Danger’s of Colonscopies from Roar of Wolverine. It’s the very candid story of a young man age 48 who had colitis and was convinced to undergo a colonoscopy.  His colon was perforated in the procedure and the rest of his story is a living nightmare. He’s a real health hero in my book.

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Stories like this are far more common than many of us realize. I fear we will see things like this happen even more in our medical system today.

Is There an Alternative to Standard Colonoscopy?

Yes. Prevention, not screenings, will always remain the gold standard for beating cancer. If you’re concerned about your risk of getting colon cancer, here are five prevention tips.

  1. Stop eating processed foods and sugar.
  2. Take vitamin D. In this article from WebMD, Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk, study results showed that “those with the hightest blood levels of vitamin D, had a nearly 40% decrease in colorectal cancer risk than those with the lowest levels.” Nuff said!
  3. Get a C-reactive protein test!  Dr. Mercola had an article about a study done over 11 years that showed people with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in their blood were more likely to develop colorectal cancers. CRP is an inflammation marker – the more inflammation you have, the more you are at risk not only for cancer, but diabetes, stroke, heart diseases and other chronic illnesses.  You can give your body a little help fighting inflammation with a good supplement like Curamin.
  4. Get a thermogram! Thermograms measure physiological changes in the body (signs of inflammation) in your abdomen. It will show that something is going on even when you have no symptoms of digestive disorders. This was the case for me. My doctor told me I had digestive issues and I wasn’t even sure I believed it until I saw my thermogram results. Thermograms are non-invasive and safe….no radiation dangers!
  5. If you have digestive issues – do something about it! If you saw our post on constipation, you know that common as it is, it’s a health hazard, and may lead to colorectal cancers.
  6. Exercise! It’s one of the best ways to protect your health…and it’s free!

If you’re not willing to take those steps, it seems that dogs are able to sniff out early stage bowel cancer, so that is certainly promising! But given the high probability of a misdiagnosis or perforation, I’d trust Fido before I’d put myself at risk again.

And here’s an additional article from At-Home Test Detects 94 Percent of Patients Who Do Not Have Colon Cancer – 15 Natural Methods of Prevention.

In my humble opinion, the art of medicine is now just big business, and if this article 6 Reasons Health Costs keep Going Up, is any indicator – it’s only going to get worse. If we never question the status quo on standard medical screenings and the excessive drug pushing and surgeries that make basic medical care out of reach for most of us, our health and healthcare are doomed.

If you think a coloscopy is still right for you, then get one. But don’t be pressured into anything before you know the risks and benefits.


Resources and References.

Colonoscopic Withdrawal Times and Adenoma Detection during Screening Colonoscopy[7]

10 Questions You Need to Ask About Colonoscopy

Colonoscopies Miss Many Cancers, Study Finds

Long-term effectiveness of endoscopic screening on incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer: A randomized trial


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27 Responses to 5 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Colonoscopy

  1. Diane January 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    I had my first colonscopy last august. I was 45 years old. My dad has a history is having numerous polyps at each of his colonscopies. They found a pre-cancerous polyp and a cancerous pulp. The cancer was only in the polyp itself. I was very lucky! I would recommend having this procedure.

    • Mary Bloomer January 21, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      Hi Diane, thanks for weighing in on the conversation. I’m very glad the procedure proved beneficial for you. My frustration is that not enough is done to help people BEFORE they get to the pre-cancerous polyp stage. Doctors are taught very little about nutrition and there is a lot of bad advice being given people about what they should and shouldn’t be eating and what constitutes as “healthy.” Not enough is done to educate patients on lifestyle changes, exercise, etc., and I will say in defense of doctors that it’s often not their fault. Many would like to spend more time with patients, but they’re forced to rush their time with them and don’t feel they can give they the time and care they’d like. All the best to you in your journey back to good health!

    • Janis May 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

      Since October 14, 2014, Medicare has covered Cologuard, a test that analyzes DNA from a stool sample.

  2. Lisha January 30, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Hey Mary –
    I love reading your thoughts and ideas, but this time I have to say that I have to weigh in with Diane. Colonscopies are expensive, but I feel that my life is worth every penny paid for the (5) I have had. The removal of the pre-cancerous polyups has kept me cancer free – and the cost of cancer and it’s treatment would have much more expensive. I like (and follow most) of your prevention ideas, but they do not change the strong genetic markers that run in my family, and will not keep me, my niece, brother and others away from these screenings, as theromograms cannot remove such polyups.
    Thanks for sharing the prevention ideas, but I do feel they should be ideas to Prevent Cancer, not Colonoscopies. They are a screening I am a huge advocate of, even though the prep is not fun!

    • Mary Bloomer January 30, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

      Point well taken, Lisha! You and your family would certainly be candidates for colonoscopy. Knowing your family history is something all of us should research and take seriously, when considering any testing/screenings. Hopefully, we can all look forward to better screening procedures in the future that are less invasive and more accurate. Thanks for sharing your very compelling story!

    • Pam March 1, 2016 at 9:11 am #

      Hi Lisha,
      I have to agree with Mary! My brother had a colonoscopy last spring. They found a polyp that was removed during the colonoscopy. Six months later there was a tumor there. Surgery and chemo was recommended. He spent time doing research before making a decision and has decided to go the natural route with diet (Budwig protocol), boosting immune system and other natural therapies. A good book, Cancer-Free by Bill Henderson and Carlos Garcia, MD and website, The Truth About Cancer would be a good recommended read for everyone! In one months time period, my brother (mid 70’s) feels better than he has in a long tie and says he can tell the tumor has shrunk. He’s a smart man and will keep track of progress. Not enough can be said about the SAD diet causing a lot of these problems and our way of testing is really barbaric. I will go the thermography route!

  3. Terry March 21, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    I do think your article has a point about ‘Big Medicine’ and the medical establishment looking for big bucks, but I also have to concede that the other people who have left comments have valid points.

    My grandmother had severe anemia that doctors could not figure out for quite a while. When she was finally convinced to have a colonoscopy, they found a bunch of polyps which had been bleeding and causing her anemia. My grandmother is from an older generation (smoked her whole life, doesn’t have a single consideration for eating healthy), and the colonoscopy & subsequent surgeries to remove her polyps probably saved her life.

    Considering how my great-grandmother died of colon cancer, I’m sure polyps are a hereditary problem in my family. Though I eat healthy, maintain an active lifestyle, and try keep my body in balance nutritionally, I’ll still be getting a colonoscopy in a few years (big 40 is coming up for me).

    Nutrition can go far in protecting us from degenerative conditions, but these invasive procedures are the only way we can know for sure if we’re still healthy internally.

    Sad, but true :\

    • Mary Bloomer March 21, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Your point is well taken, Terry. People should get the testing they think is best for them and understanding family history is a critical piece to the wellness puzzle. A new test is now available (see link below) that will also help minimize the risks of a standard colonoscopy, but doctors still need to get educated on nutrition and leaky gut, or the problem of polyps and colon cancer will never go away. Screening is not prevention. Thanks for taking the time to comment – it’s helpful! All the best to you when the big “4-0” arrives…you’re young!

      • Danny January 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

        Actually, screening IS prevention. The act of screening and polyp removal *PREVENTS* colon CA in most cases. Your post, like much of this article, is filled with misinformation, and I sincerely hope people don’t read this and come away with dangerous misinterpretations dressed up as facts.

  4. Intheknow October 12, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Here is my experience. I went in for a colonoscopy some years ago. I was sedated but not general anesthesia. During the procedure, I awoke screaming because the pain of the procedure was so intense. I kept on screaming while the idiot doctor (gastroenterologist) kept trying to push the colonoscope through my colon. I was also kicking my legs. believe me I have had many procedures in my day, and this one was HORRENDOUS!

    Long story short, I discovered (after the procedure) that the doctor could not get the colonoscope through my colon because I have a very deep double loop in my colon (happens in about 1 out of 200 people or so). They could not complete the procedure but doctors keep wanting to try, insisting that today they have better equipment. Screw it, my colon has NOT changed shape! It still has the very deep double loop and they would still not be able to complete the procedure. Then it was suggested that I have a series of X-rays after drinking some vile concoction, while my butt is corked (I think not!), and if someone finds something I would then go in for them to do full abdominal surgery to find out what it is (if anything). Again, I think not.

    At some point in this life you have to take your chances and I don’t want a perforated colon because some doctor has decided he or she can get through the maze, and I am NOT going in for full abdominal surgery just so they can have a “look see” around to be sure nothing is there. A lot of these procedures are profit-driven, and I am not going to have endless procedures today with the idea I “might” have something tomorrow. At that point, we should all have hysterectomies, appendectomies, tonsillectomies, mastectomies, gall bladder removal, and a series of other procedures at a young age, so that if by chance one of those things is going to cause problems later on, we will already be free of them. Let’s get real here.

    Eventually you will die of something no matter how many tests you have, or how often you see your doctor. Early detection does NOT always save lives and if we all need to go through endless procedures to save us from dying, well, that isn’t going to happen. We are all headed in the same direction. However if anyone thinks I will risk having my colon perforated by some idiot who thinks THEY will be the one to get through the maze, well, think of Joan Rivers. Different body part involved with her but her egotistical doctor basically killed her off, with the help of the clinic she went to for an endoscopy. People, think and don’t always act like a sheep just because doctors and hospitals need to make money. Everyone should do what they feel is best for them, but as for me, I’ll pass on any further colonoscopies.

    • Mary Bloomer October 14, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      Wow, InTheKnow, thanks for sharing your story. We’re glad you survived this ordeal. While we realize your case is unique, these situations can happen more often than people realize. It’s true that early detection doesn’t necessarily mean saved lives and sometimes, as in breast cancer screenings, it can cause more harm than good. Thanks for taking the time to share your story. We wish you well!

      • stephanie Jan. 9, 2017 January 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

        Intheknow Thanks for your story. I am scheduled for a colonoscopy early February. I have nothing wrong with me. So what’s the point? A “look see”?
        I don’t want to be a guinea pig. My doctor (a nice guy) but he gave me no reason other than, “you haven’t had one in 18 years”. Yeah, so…why? I’m beginning to think they do these tests then tell you that something is not quite right and do another procedure or worse, surgery My best friend just had one and called me immediately after and told me to cancel it. Unless there is something wrong, ( there are non invasive) tests available. Oddly, there were no other patients in the waiting room when I went to se the doctor who would be doing t the hospital. I am not a fan of hospitals. My friend had the procedure done with no anesthesia. Doctors told her she didn’t need any. She screamed and kicked her feet through the whole ordeal.. Fuhgetaboutit. Besides, I have a pacemaker. I am not fooling around.

    • Tanya August 28, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

      Good for you! I feel the same way!

      • Skeezix April 18, 2018 at 6:59 pm #

        And so do I. I don’t do any routine screenings whatsoever. Never have, and I resent the scare tactics and brainwashing so prevalent in the medical profession. If you have a good reason for getting a colonoscopy, then get one. Otherwise, have the good sense to leave well enough alone. Keep your body in good health and trust your immune system to take care of the rest.

  5. Steve Hofsaess November 14, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Thanks for the information,, I researched your article, because a few years ago, I was diagnosed with a fairly high PSA. The doctors were already planning on removing my prostrate gland, before my first biopsy. They told me, it is quite normal and my life would not change. I did get a biopsy and it was negative for cancer, but during the time period I was becoming more educated about the prostate gland. I came across a fantastic article ” I want my prostate back” , one of the best articles I have ever read.
    It almost sounds like Doctors are on commission,, take out 4 prostates and you get a trip to Hawaii. It has made me sad and angry that big business will ruin a person’s life for $$$.
    I try to eat right, exercise daily, I think I will delay my first Colonoscopy until I feel the time is right,, I am 51 years old young. Thanks again for the information

  6. Dean Clinard December 27, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    I just went through a wellness exam, for a discount on my health insurance premium. I am 58 and am in good health. The doctor yelled at me when I told her I hadn’t gotten a colonoscopy. This coupled with her rude attitude, and scheduling another appointment to go over lab results, before they were in, prompted me to do some investigating. I agree with you whole heartedly on all points Mary. I wish you would discuss polyps being caused from lifestyle i.e., external reasons, and the fact that if they are removed, a larger number are likely to appear, without a life style change. Colonoscopies do NOTHING to decrease the instances of colon cancer and it has been proven that cases have increased some 33% since a large amount of Americans have deemed it necessary to be screened, by pressure.

    • I am 74 years old. I have no problems with my digestive system...with going to the bathroom regulary.. and I walk an average of at least 2 miles per day 5 days a week. Can my family doctor insist that I have a colonoscopy? December 3, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

      I am a 74 year old male… My mother and father did not have cancer….Father died at 81…mother at 93. I have no stomach problems….regular bowel movements…exercise regularyly….waling an average of 2 miles at least 5 times each week…Can my family doctor insist taht I have a colonoscopy?

  7. veggierunner January 23, 2016 at 2:21 pm #

    I am only 48 years old. One year ago at 47 had colon cancer. Did not have a colon exam a few years before that because doctors laughed at my young age and vegetarian lifestyle/diet and being a fit runner. Well the cancer one year ago was caused from statin drug poisoning. We blame everything on diet but forget that prescription drugs and even the prep laxatives are made from petrochemicals- nasty hydrocarbons that are toxic carcinogens.I was on one drug -ever- a cholesterol pill.

  8. Desiree March 9, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Oh my God I needed to see this article! I am 51 years old and last year as soon as I turned 59, my doctor told me that I must schedule a colonoscopy. I was like uhhhh I don’t know. She says yes, you need to get one! I haven’t. A researcher by nature I have read articles about how colonoscopies can cause more harm than good. I do get mammograms once a year and after reading your link, am a little nervous about that. I have done a 360 in my eating habits and am now eating clean. I take all my vitamins. I have asthma so I take Advair and Allegra for my allergies and am saying a silent prayer that this is not hurting me somehow. It is so sad that in this world today, doctors are profiting on the sick. Seeing your blog came at the right time because I was still hesitant about a colonoscopy. In my humble opinion, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  9. Nomi March 15, 2016 at 10:24 am #

    This was extremely helpful information in my case, thank you so much!

    • Angela August 25, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

      I am scheduled to see a Gastroenterologist next week. I am a 60 yr. old woman with hemmoroid issues. I take senna to have regular bowel movements. I eat right and exercise but due to thyroid issues and fibromyalgia it’s hard for me to do any more than walking . I am terrified of a colonoscopy and have been anemic my entire life. After reading these stories I am even more fearful! My Dad died of cancer (so did all his brothers and one sister), but my Mom is alive and healthy at age 90. I have mixed emotions and can’t make up my mind.

  10. Ellie Davis January 8, 2019 at 4:50 pm #

    I didn’t know that you should try and get a gastroenterologist to do the colonoscopy for you. My father is wanting to get a colonoscopy just in case and I want to make sure we find the best place for him. I’ll have to help him research some clinics and find the best one possible.

  11. Gerty Gift January 22, 2019 at 1:56 pm #

    I liked what you said about exercise being a good way to prevent needing a colonoscopy. My friend was talking about how his dad needs one and is wondering what he can do about reducing his risk. I’ll be sure to bring this up with him so that he can get a better idea for what options are available to him.

  12. Daphne Gilpin March 5, 2019 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks for pointing out that it’s a good idea to have colonoscopies done by a qualified gastroenterologist because they’re much less likely to miss the cancer. My husband needs to have a colonoscopy done soon, so I’ve been looking for tips online to help him choose a doctor. I wasn’t sure what type of doctor would be the most qualified, so thanks for letting me know we should look for gastroenterologist.


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