Think twice before a colonoscopy!

think twice before a colonoscopy!

I was driving to dance class yesterday when I stopped behind a bus at a red light. The advertisement on the back of the bus had an image with two hands making the shape of a heart, with the words “your badonkadonk” inside. Underneath, it read “No matter what you call it… have it checked.” You can see a picture of a similar advertisement on this article regarding the campaigns. The campaign, funded by the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation, aims to encourage people to get a colonoscopy to check for colon cancer.

Well, that’s really ironic. Because getting a colonoscopy isn’t a way to “love your butt” as the foundation would have you believe. While the procedure is sometimes necessary, I believe it is very important to be informed of the colonoscopy risks before getting a routine one done.

Love your butt? Think twice before the colonoscopy.

The Chris4Life Foundation explains their mission on their website:

 The Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation is a national Colon Cancer non profit dedicated to permanently eliminating the threat of the disease through the discovery of a cure. As long as people are dying from this disease, we will be at the front lines of the fight.

After reading about the Chris4Life campaign, I immediately drew a parallel between it and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. This iconic breast cancer foundation once marketed a perfume to fund their cause… a perfume that contained potent carcinogens banned by the International Fragrance Association!

So how is Chris4Life similar to the Komen foundation? It claims to be an advocate of colon health, but colonoscopies aren’t always in our best interest.

Colonoscopy Risks: Not just perforation

I really encourage you to think twice before having a routine colonoscopy. I am not a doctor and I am not giving medical advice, however. I am presenting you with information that you will most likely not learn from your medical practitioner. It’s up to you to weight the pros and cons. Here are some of the cons:

1. Colonoscopies wipe out protective gut flora

We have 4-6 pounds of bacteria in our gut. These 500 species of bacteria, often referred to as gut flora, play specific roles in homeostasis and growth, including nutrient absorption, mucosal barrier function, support of gut lymphoid tissue, and immune function (read more here.)

The “bowel preparation” procedure before a colonoscopy entails consuming substances that completely flush out the colon, leaving it squeaky clean for camera access. This “cleaning” process strips the protective bacteria and leaves the colon wide open for infection from yeasts, pathogenic bacteria, and even an infection from the scope itself. Which leads us to the next point…

2. Colonoscopy scopes present a risk of infection

The Mayo Clinic once sent out letters to patients of colonoscopies warning them that they could have been exposed to Hepatitis and Aids due to the procedure! Shockingly, it is extremely difficult (and some say impossible) to clean the endoscopes thoroughly enough to prevent infection and transmission of disease.

One 2003 article in the Los Angeles Times reported on the dangers of unsatisfactorily cleaned endoscopes:

“The nation’s leading manufacturer of endoscopes has known for a decade that some scopes contain cavities inaccessible to cleaning by hand but has failed to fix the oversight, said David Lewis, a University of Georgia research microbiologist who has conducted research for the federal Environmental Protection Agency on the issue of dirty endoscopes.”

The article originally contained the following statements, which have been removed from the online archived version! I leave it to you to draw your own conclusion about why these statements were withdrawn… but I’ll give you a hint: follow the money and the power. These original statements are recorded in the 2003 book, The IBD Remission Diet by Jini Patel Thompson.

There is wide consensus that it is difficult to sterilize the devices… without using temperatures so high that the scopes themselves become damaged. The scopes have numerous cavities that are difficult to clean, even by hand, critics say.

The most condemning statement removed from the online article said:

Lewis says Olympus, which provides 70% of the endoscopes on the U.S. market, has long been aware of cleaning problems associated with its product. In a patent filed in 1993, he says, the company wrote that at times “satisfactory cleaning cannot be achieved.”

Want to see some of the studies that reveal the contamination of endoscopes? This report (pages 11-15) lists numerous the studies.

3. Colonoscopies may cause colitis and Crohn’s

Gluteraldehyde, a common sterilant for endoscopes, has been proven to cause colitis! Residual amounts of this toxic substance on the endoscope may irritate the colon and lead to colitis.

Additionally, this sterilant is not effective in eliminating mycobacterium, the microorganism that has been identified in 90% of Chron’s disease patients. Contamination of endoscopes with this microorganism may actually cause Chron’s disease.

4. Colonoscopies don’t reduce mortality of colorectal cancer

Independent health researcher Konstantin Monastyrsky dug through the facts and medical journals. This is what he found:

  • The American Cancer Society has stated that “there are no prospective randomized controlled trials of screening colonoscopy for the reduction in incidence or mortality of colorectal cancer.”
  • The National Cancer Institute has said, “…it is not yet known for certain whether colonoscopy can help reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer.
  •  Screening colonoscopies are useless. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found  that “the patients in all the studies had at least one adenoma detected on colonoscopy but did not have cancer. They developed cancer in the next few years, however, at the same rate as would be expected in the general population without screening.”
  • Colonoscopies present the risk of colon perforation and bleeding.
  • Virtual colonoscopies actually increase the risk of cancer by exposing you to high doses of radiation. The National Cancer Institute has stated, “Whether virtual colonoscopy can reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer is not yet known.”

I encourage you to watch Konstantin’s report on colonoscopies. You can also read the transcript of his video here. I am also a fan of his book The Fiber Menace.

Steps to reduce colonoscopy risks

Perhaps you are in the rare situation when you need a colonoscopy to diagnose a serious health issue. I wish I had know these important steps for reducing the dangers of a colonoscopies when I had mine.

1. Try to find a doctor who uses removable sheaths on the endoscope

There are a few clinics that use a disposable sheath on the endoscope. Since a new sheath is used for each patient, it won’t spread infectious diseases from person to person. But it may be difficult to locate a clinic that uses these sheathes, so it requires lots of phone calls and research to find one.

2. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet high in probiotics.

For at least two weeks preceding the colonoscopy, eliminate inflammatory foods such as grains and vegetable oils. Focus on homemade, fermented foods such as homemade raw yogurt and fermented vegetables to bolster gut flora. It is also advisable to supplement with a high quality probiotic.

3. Supplement with aloe vera juice

In her book, Jini explains how to prepare the colon for the invasive procedure:

“After you have administered the test prep – designed to clean the surface of your bowel as clean as the surface of your hand – drink 1/2 cup George’s Always Active Aloe Vera Juice every two hours until you have to go to the hospital. This will help heal damage to the mucosa from the test prep and also to strengthen the mucosal lining before the procedure.”

It is also beneficial to drink a small amount of the aloe juice daily, on an empty stomach, for the week following the procedure.

4. Do the procedure without anesthesia

Konstantin recommends skipping the anesthesia for the colonoscopy:

“Those with a family history of colon cancer or otherwise at high risk probably should do a colonoscopy. But I suggest they request to have it done without general anesthesia. That’s where the majority of the risks are. The doctors do it that way not because the procedure is painful, but because they can ‘jam’ faster, and bill for anesthesiology.”

5. Administer a probiotic retention enema immediately after the procedure

The IBD Remission Diet book explains how to make and use a probiotic enema after the colonoscopy. This immediately repopulates the gut with high-dose probiotics to help prevent infection and lowered immunity. The enema should be additionally administered once a week for at least four weeks after the colonoscopy.

“Well, those things sound like a headache… is it really necessary?” Yes! Stripping your colon of it’s immunity and protective barrier is a HUGE deal, so it does call for some drastic protective measures.


Have you had a colonoscopy? Have you purposely skipped a routine colonoscopy?

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  1. Susan Ps says

    Thanks so much for the post. Very interesting and informative. I had never heard much of what you say. Difficult subject, thanks for “baring it all” for the betterment and health of your readers (and big hugs to you for all you have had to endure in your short life.)

      • Angela says

        My spleen was torn by a “routine” colonoscopy! I almost died! Required me to have an emergency splenectomy! No recourse, even though the possibility of a torn spleen was never disclosed to me!! A SHAME!!!

    • Gina says

      OMG, I’ve GOT to talk my 86 year old Dad out of this procedure!! The doctor “recommended” it just for the money. I KNEW it.

      • JoeInMidwest says

        At the age of 86 years, the colon lining is MUCH more likely to be damaged and perforated. Unless there are symptoms of colon cancer (which begs the question about an extremely aged person having major surgery anyway), colon cancer is normally a slow growth tumor in elderly people. The faster growing colon cancers are those in people under 50 y.o.. Why would someone that old want a test that would be more likely to have a fatal side effect than the likelihood of a fatal tumor, especially when the risks of major surgery are worse?

  2. Heidi says

    I had a lot of mixed emotion reading this article, because I had colon cancer at 42 and had I gone in for a colonoscopy I could have been diagnosed earlier and had fewer complications. As it was, I skipped the colonoscopy and ended up with a tumor so large it perforated my colon and started growing into my psoas muscle and came dangerously close to other internal organs. Because it was now an abcess, I was treated incorrectly for diverticulitis, which involved a horrible treatment where the abcess was punctured and drained – not only was it horribly painful, but it probably spread the cancer. When they recommended I do the procedure a second time because there was no real change in my condition, I sought a second opinion, was immediately scheduled for surgery where the tumor was removed, declared to be cancer, and I opted for chemo and radiation – in part because of the probable spread of cancer cells from the “draining” procedure. So, I really want people to know if they have any history of cancer, especially colorectal, or a gut feeling something is really, really wrong – they shouldn’t fear colonoscopies to the extent that they seriously compromise their health. Colon cancer is one of the biggest killers YET IT IS THE MOST TREATABLE if it is caught in time. That said, I agree that people should know the pros and cons, and procedures like this are a big deal, and it’s good to know what kind of effects it can have on the body. I think the tips for reducing risk are an especially helpful resource (thank you, Lauren!).

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing this! Yes, I definitely believe they are necessary sometimes… after all, it was necessary that I had one to diagnose my colitis. I hope these tips for reducing risk are helpful for those who need to get one done.

  3. kelly says

    So what other alternatives can be suggested? I’m going to have to schedule one soon but I’m putting it off with first a sonogram to first rule other things out…but I’ll have both a scopes to schedule otherwise. I live overseas and can’t get the aloe drink but I’ll be looking to do the other things to lessen the associated problems both before and after…I appreciate those tips!
    I would like to know though, what other options exist? I have issues and its chronic and all the diet changes (paleo and gaps) haven’t resolved them.

    thanks for sharing!!

    • Becky Sue says

      Have you tried the SCD, Specific Carbohydrate Diet? My daughter had many digestive issues and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. She had to have a surgery for the Crohn’s. However, my father, who almost died from Crohn’s religiously follows the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and he has never had to have a surgery. Now my daughter follows the diet too and she is able to avoid taking ANY MEDICATIONS for her Crohn’s.

  4. Leslie Moldenauer says

    So my sister just got a polyp removed after she had rectal bleeding. The type of polyp does have some history if being genetic. I am completely holistic and the thought if getting one makes me cringe. I feel that this might be necessary? I will take the steps you mentioned….but am very hesitant to go through with it. My first step will be to find out if the doctor uses replaceable sheaths. Comments welcomed.

    • Zoé Ledoux says

      Leslie: You can get the genetic testing done with a blood test. My four year has just been diagnosed with Juvenile Polyposis and we are waiting for her genetic testing results (which, if positive, will mean the whole family will be tested to determine the risk for her little sister). Maybe start with that before a colonoscopy?

      • Bonnie says

        Hi Leslie, What is the name of the genetic blood test? Did your GP write up the requisition for it it or did you have to have a specialist write the requisition or……….

  5. says

    I had a colonoscopy two years ago and now need one every three years. I had a polyp removed so am considered in need of more regular examinations. My doctor said that all colon cancer is preventable, that is the sad thing. He said all cancer comes from polyps but not all polyps cause cancer.

    The very interesting thing though is that the nurse who attended to me asked what medication I was on and when I told her I suffered from reflux she told me that there were dietary ways to fix that – ie, giving up wheat etc. At the time I though she was a bit nuts but when I looked into it, read Wheatbelly etc, the rest is history! Hopefully the way I now eat will also help every other aspect of my health, including bowel :)

  6. Kate says

    As a regular reader of your blog, I have to say I’m disappointed with this article. I feel it’s highly irresponsible to encourage your readers to avoid colonoscopies when they are recommended by their MDs. As with ANY surgical procedure, there are risks to consider, but physicians (the good ones, anyways) wouldn’t advise their patients to undergo a colonoscopy if the benefits did not outweigh the risk.

    Furthermore, this is nitpicking, but replaceable sheaths are completely unnecessary. Surgical grade sterilization is sufficient to eliminate pathogens.

    • Theresa says

      “physicians (the good ones, anyways) wouldn’t advise their patients to undergo a colonoscopy if the benefits did not outweigh the risk”
      That simply is not true. Colonoscopies are regarded as a routine preventative measure for everyone. To say that the benefits outweigh the risk for everyone is not valid. Her point is that each individual needs to weigh the risks vs benefits. To simply follow doctors orders without question is very naive. ALL these invasive procedures have risk, but doctors do not account for that when they simply recommend them as a routine measure for everyone.
      And your statement that “Surgical grade sterilization is sufficient to eliminate pathogens” is clearly invalid, with the research provided in this article.
      I am thrilled to see this article, since I was completely unaware of any of these risks. Now I can make a more educated decision whether or not to undergo this “routine” procedure which has been recommended by my doctor. His recommendation was not based on my history, he was simply following a “checklist” of diagnostic procedures which should be done at age 50. I am very glad I put this test off for now, until I can do some more research on my own.

      • Marc says

        Don’t wait to long. This is a painless and easy procedure that could save your life. Just like getting a flu shot. It’s a no-brainer.

        • JoeInMidwest says

          Many people find the colonoscopy to be VERY painful. Many say it is nothing. Unfortunately, many MDs are TOTALLY CALLOUS, and don’t seem to schedule for the possibility that the procedure will not go smoothly. Why should they?? They get paid by the procedure and there is NO incentive regarding the comfort of the patients.
          I had a sigmoidoscopy 15 yrs ago, and found it VERY painful, although it’s only about 1/3 the length of the colonoscopy. The MD should have stopped and re-scheduled me when someone could drive me home as sedation prevented my driving. CLEARLY, the MD did not care to stop, as he probably had tuition bills due for kids in private college. The attending RN told me after the procedure that I should have been sedated. I wish she had told the MD to stop. Of course, now I am 65 y.o. and the memory of that time is truly like PTSD. I’m not going to subject myself to another callous MD, plus a prep that sounds barbaric. I have no risk factors for cancer other than age. I REFUSE TO BE JUST A REVENUE SOURCE.

    • Melisa says

      You simply can’t sterilize dirty equipment. Plain and simple. As one of my bosses used to say, “Even if it’s sterilized, it’s still dirty.”

    • says

      I guess you didn’t read the whole article. This procedure is recommended as routine without considering risks, as it was for me. Also, the evidence is there regarding the inability to sterilize equipment. I’m so glad I read this. I was referred to a colonoscopy as I was over 50 but without any symptoms or a cause for one. Glad I refused. The office said anesthesia was necessary. I would have gone if they said it wasn’t. Glad I didn’t. If I find a need for one in the future I’ll follow these recommendations.

    • BAL says

      I am an active, working 78 year-old woman. A little over a year ago I had a routine colonoscopy because I tend to have non-cancerous polyps. Last year, I did the routine prep, had the colonoscopy which showed 3 non-cancerous polyps that the doctor removed. The next morning I woke up needing to have a bowel movement, only to discover that it was not a bowel movement, I was bleeding profusely from the rectum. I could feel huge, soft blood clots passing and I began to pass out. A friend got me to the ER. My Gastroeterologist stuck his head in the door and said, “We’ll do another colonoscopy tomorrow so you need to stay in the hospital and do the prep again.” I tried to reason with him, saying “Please don’t do that. Just observe and see if I don’t stop bleeding on my own – if I do that prep, the blood gush from me.” It has been my experience that doctors are human beings and they make mistakes just like you and me. They are not perfect! After I started the prep that night in the hospital, the blood began to gush just as it had before. I ended up freaking out all the nurses on the floor because there was blood everywhere. I was transferred to ICU where they almost lost me; I could hear nurses tallking saying I had “no blood pressure” and one said, “her eyes have rolled back in her head”. I was in the hospital 4 days, 2 of them in ICU, and they gave me 6 units of blood. I won’t have another colonoscopy for the docs to “look around” unless there is some evidence to warrant that. After I was recovering, my doctor admitted to me that he had made a “wrong call”. I have a strong faith in God and I believe it was He who pulled me back from dying or I wouldn’t be here today. I urge everyone, please don’t blindly trust doctors. Take charge of your own health – do your own research and prove out what the doctors say to be true before you undergo any medical treatment. God bless you Lauren for presenting truth!!

      • Alivi says

        Why on earth is anyone recommending a colonoscopy for someone over 70 years old? The risk/benefit ratio is hugely in favour of of the risks! Anesthesia alone is not a good thing; any growths, cancerous or not, would likely not grow fast enough to be a source of problems or death. ‘Geez Louise! Sometimes doctors in their overzealous search for cancer do not use their brains to see if there is actually a benefit.

    • Barbara Weaver says

      Anyone who thinks that doctors only recommend colonoscopies if the benefits outweigh the risks, is a person who has no clue. I am active (babysit for a 1-year-old and an 8-year-old, walk a brisk 2 miles, 5 days a week), am 68 years old, have no bleeding, no colitis, nothing in my family EVER having to do with any cancer other than lung cancer (and all three were smokers, while I have never smoked), and my doctor set up an appointment for me to have one because I’m over 50 and “SHOULD” have one. I’m frankly changing doctors. But mostly … they all do it. Over 50? Have a colonoscopy. Are there risks? Totally minimal. I am not having a colonoscopy, and I’m grateful for this article!

      • Marsha says

        I agree, I have never had any problems and I will not be getting a colonoscopy. I am 58 and on NO meds and have never been.

        • JJ says

          My dad is 60 and has just been diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer, he’s only just started showing the signs now. shame he didn’t have that colonoscopy 10 years earlier when it was just a removable polyp. Then he wouldn’t be having six weeks of intensive chemo and radiation and having major surgery to end up with a colostomy bag for what is left of his life. It’s everyone’s individual choice, but I know in hindsight he wishes he’d just gone for the check at 50.
          Good that your informing people of the risks, good doctors should inform of the risks as mine has.

          • JoeInMidwest says

            Did your father have any risk factor like family history, smoking, obesity sedentary life style, and lots of red meat?? Those are all factors that increase risk, but the procedure itself has risks as well. The biggest risk for MDs is decreased income as they are paid to do procedures, not necessarily to keep patients healthy or comfortable.

    • Teresa says

      I agree. First and foremost, I can respect opinion on any level but a medical opinion should be left to the professionals who have dedicated their lives to medicine. I am a 44 year old with a history of cancer. My “nitpick” with your blogging article on “why you should think twice before getting a Colonoscopy” is completely absurd. If I lived my life pulling the “what if’s”, did you know’s and “the risk’s involved” from my first colonoscopy at age 25 for the removal of pre-cancerous polyps that were removed (due to family genetics) I would be dead. SO..with that being said, did you know that giving your opinion may have or can take someone’s life? I think I would rather see them recoup their gut with some priobotics than live with that conscious.

      • Krista says

        I agree. My first colonoscopy when I was 26 removed 15 precancerous polyps. The next removed 11. Young people typically don’t have colonoscopies but I’m glad I went in. Turns out I have familial polyposis. At the age of 36 and a few missed colonoscopies dues to moving often for the military I learned I had actual colon cancer and hundreds of polyps. My entire colon and rectum had to be removed. I wish I had gone in sooner. These screenings really are necessary.

      • KayCee says

        Colon cancer is a serious matter, that being said, I would like to relate I awoke from a routine screening with a scratched cornea (Yes! Apparently common when anesthetized) and a non stop myriad of stomach and skin issues that I did not have prior and am still suffering and I mean suffering with today. My well rated doctor never suggested that I take a probiotic or eat yogurt or fermented foods after the test. I was never informed that a sheath could be used. THESE SHOULD BE PROTOCOLS AND AREN’T! I know in my heart of hearts that this test prep messed me up royally! All this in the hands of a good physician. My sympathy to all of you w. Colon cancer. It is good to have these discussions I think. We all need to push for sheathing and high grade probiotics.

    • AJ says

      You, apparently came through a colonoscopy with your body intact! I, on the other hand, had my spleen torn! I bled ALL NIGHT after my doctor sent me home with “gas” he told me the extreme pain I was feeling was; only to be rushed to the hospital the next morning after losing consciousness and being told I had to have an emergency splenectomy! Which, I might add, netted the hospital OVER $212, 000 ADDITIONAL dollars in hospital costs for a ROUTINE COLONOSCOPY TURNED SPLENECTOMY!!! HOGWASH! It’s a RACKET and done FAR TOO OFTEN, UNWARRANTED!!!!

      • Kelsey says

        You all can sit back and go tit for tat, but I will personally recommend that everyone has a good conversation with their doctor and get second opinions, especially if you are of an age where colon cancer frequently presents itself. As with any other procedure, things can and will go wrong occasionally. A week before my 20th birthday I had a colonoscopy where they removed a small polyp and thankfully took a biopsy of some of my colon. If the doctor hadn’t, they wouldn’t have known I had lymphocytic colitis (something that is thought of to be underdiagnoised in someone my age because we don’t go and get colonoscopies). I was missing work and school, sleeping my life away and neglecting my social life because of my bathroom problems.
        Talk to your doctor, do research. Decide what is best from educated medical opinions and current and relevant medical journals. Don’t let someone’s horror story make up your mind for you.

    • Shirley says

      I had 2 colonoscopies by the same doctor in 2001 about a month apart. After the 1st one on follow up he told me he was not able to complete the procedure so I needed to have it repeated. He had forgot to get permission for any anethisia so I remember screaming and 2 nurses trying to hold me down and it was like he was shooting an air gun up there and cramming it up there. I fell asleep after that and remember nothing till being home. He got permission for some anathesia the next time and I felt nothing. But after procedure was woke up by x-ray technician and asked to move over to x-ray table as doctor thought he ruptured me. When I moved over I told technician look at all that blood not realizing it was mine. Neither time was my husband told that anything had gone wrong. 3 or 4 hours I felt like I was still going to throw up and a friend had came over to stay with me called the doctor and he said to take me to hospital right away as he had punctured me and I could die. I was still sort of out of it and said I am not going to die just feel like I am going to throw up. 2 to 3 months later I started falling asleep all the time And pain in upper right side of stomach. He said he would order blood test, but did not, went back again not getting better and had blood test. Liver count high so he ordered hepatitis test came out positive. I had biopsy by a different liver specialist and more blood tests and I had no liver damage and counts not that high. I know I got it from those colonoscopies as have never did drugs and again he had never told my husband there was a problem. The hospital would not give me records for 7 years saying they were in storage. I got my records after hospital was sold. Records show a bleed both times. In Nevada I read where lots of people veteran got hep c from dirty and not sufficiently cleaned equipment. I cried for years and now treatment is here for type 1 and I just started it. I believe it colonoscopy have a place, but need better equipment and thank God I have started treatment and believe the medical field knows about these problems. One of the ways I suspected that I got it from, was a article in the paper with headlines of hospitals dirty little secret and it was about the unclean equipment. I drank occasionally, never did drugs and married to same man for 50 years, so figure it out

    • Peaches says

      If you say so. My Husband had a Colonoscopy March 18 the 2015. He grew a infected Perianal Abscess from the Colonoscopy. On April 19 th had Surgery to remove the Abscess, came home from the hospital two days later, and DIED 3 days upon being released. So in total…. My husband died exactly 1 month and 5 days after receiving a Colonoscopy. He was 32 years old HEALTHY, HEALTHY! his brother was diagnosed with Colon Cancer in November 2014. That is why my husband received the Colonoscopy, as recommended by his Physician. Whom now fears it took his life.

    • Anita says

      I do not think advice this is AT ALL irresponsible – as long as the US “healthcare system” (which I always put in quotes on purpose!) has PROFIT as its Number 1 Priority. My husband and I are 65 and almost 60 respectively. We eat – and for the past 10 years – have eaten a mostly plant-based diet. We ain’t gettin’ no GD colonoscopies!!!!! For ALL the reasons here! We choose to maintain our health with diet and other lifestyle choices.

      This website – and others that promote an holistic approach to maintaining good health – HARDLY impact the gazillion$$$$ that our for-profit hospitals and “health care system” pursue – at the cost of endless pain and suffering, as well as millions upon millions of dollars in UN-needed and unnecessary “care” and treatment foisted upoin ignorant consumers/patients. Geez!

  7. Katherine says

    I’ve had one when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. Shortly afterward my doctor wanted to establish a schedule of further procedures. I knew then I needed a new doctor. I found one that is more in line with my way of thinking. He supports me trying to control my illness with diet.

  8. Dora says

    Lauren, while you raise many valid issues concerning the safety of colonoscopies, it is also true that folks who suffer from Colitis or other inflammatory bowel diseases are at an increased risk of developing colon cancer. And if you factor in a family history of colon cancer, the risk increases even more. So I think it’s a little irresponsible to scare people away from this procedure, which could literally be lifesaving in some cases. Everyone has to weigh the benefits vs. the risks for themselves. It’s very individual. I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but unless you went to medical school and have a degree in gastroenterology, I don’t think you’re qualified to dispense this kind of advice.

    • says

      I just presented the facts and my opinion I drew from those facts. I absolutely agree that everyone has to weight the risks and benefits for themselves.

    • says

      Everyone is qualified, and responsible to warn others of dangers that are hidden. I’m glad I read this. If I find a need for this procedure in the future I will take this advice from anyone who presents the same evidence, regardless of their education.

  9. KElley says

    I have to say I disagree with your article. I had my first at age 30 and had 3 adenomas removed. The dr told me if I had waited till 40 to have my first they would have been staging my cancer! You have to weigh the pros and cons of any procedure. Having issues for years and a father who passed of Pancreatic Ca, I felt the benefits of the scope far outweighed any risks. A side note, I have had two (5 total ademomas removed) and had NO complications or issues with either one.

  10. Holly says

    Thanks for this … love the tips and I find it to be very balanced. Obviously sometimes it is necessary but not every year after 50 necessarily …. I have to wonder too if my Mom’s issues with her gut haven’t been made worse from the procedure ….

  11. Linda says

    I instinctually refused several coloscopies recommended by my GI Drs. I had one to diagnose my Ulcerative Colitis at age 31 and it was so painful and traumatic. I was told it would not hurt. I was pulled from twilight by excruciating pain to be fully conscious in a room with very flustered medical staff shouting at each other. The prep for the procedure was so intense, the idea of doing it again just because my drs hadn’t check in awhile seemed insane to me. With my flares, I am already fully cleaned out and the diarrhea caused by the prep would surely undo me. I fear these drs need to be in control. They make more money with procedures and I am dismayed at their lack of knowledge when it comes to diet and nutrition. Kissed them good bye and put my UC into remission with Weston Price information. Off my meds since Oct 2012 and symptoms stopped in Feb 2013. None since. Illeocecal valve syndrome was a big clue for me and magnesium baths.

  12. Susan says

    Thank you for this post! I have never had a colonoscopy for all the reasons you have cited. I’ve never read those books, but to me all the risks are unnecessary unless we need to find something, and even then, I would ask what other ways could be utilized. I have never believed that a test, especially an invasive procedure, should ever be done routinely. I was unaware of the cleanliness of the endoscope, but that just confirms my opinion.

  13. laney says

    Interesting article. But I think you might have framed it poorly. These aren’t reasons to skip a colonoscopy, a potential lifesaving screen. These are reasons to weigh the pros with the cons. As with everything in medicine, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis. Being informed of the risks is important, but there are always risks in modern medicine. Modern medicine is what has kept many of us from dying in infancy, young or in childbirth. If we stick with Darwinism, lots of us are screwed.

  14. Laura says

    LOVE your posts. Just wanted to say that when you write about what research has found, don’t say “proven.” Instead say that research supports the finding. People that are science-based will immediately discredit your writing if you say “proven” because nothing is proven in science. It is only supported or not supported.

  15. says

    Everyone has a right to the way they manage their health. Frankly, I prefer to think and research for myself and practice prevention. I have worked too long in the allopathic health care field to know that it is not all about health “care” but rather disease management, and not very good at that as I have watched so many friends and family suffer frailty and die as each person was some doctor or group of doctors’ experiment. Tests and treatments are ordered, not to bring about better health, but more profits for cancer centers, insurance companies, the FDA and Pharma. Diagnoses, dire prognoses, and death sentences are given by doctors when they should be teaching their patients that the human body is able to heal itself if given the right means and half a chance. Maybe someday we will revert back to the common-sense practices that kept everyone healthier and away from doctors and pharmacies. Maybe someday emergency centers will be just for traumas and not used as clinics, preventing those who need them on rare occasion from getting expedient service.
    I wholeheartedly agree with this very well-written article and the good video. What will it take for people to realize that what they are currently doing is not getting them better? I had one colonoscopy 8 years ago and wondered during the harsh prep and invasive procedure if I was doing the right thing. It was perfectly normal and I don’t plan to have another one. I don’t do mammograms either. In fact, I don’t even have an M.D. for a doctor.
    Thank you for bringing this good information to the forefront and educating people that there are alternatives to the status quo.

    • Tracy says

      Tammy, that was so well-stated. I could not agree with you more. I love hearing from those in (or formerly in) the allopathic fields who are brave enough to state the realities of conventional medicine. Thank you!

    • RJ says

      I have to challenge your statement about medical institutions doing excessive tests and procedures in an effort to make money. I’ll give you Pharma and I don’t know about cancer centers, but the FDA is a government agency, hence doesn’t have profits. As for insurance companies, that’s not how they make money, they do it by NOT providing people with healthcare. That’s why they don’t like to cover people with “pre-existing conditions” and there are so many horror stories about people being denied badly-needed treatment. How much money an insurance company makes is basically decided via the simple equation of membership fees – medical services = profits. Fewer services, more profits.

      Also, I’m not clear on the “common-sense practices” you’re referring to. Do you mean the ones involving leaches, opium, and the like? I’m a big fan of research and second opinions, and mainstream medicine is certainly far from perfect especially when it come to prevention and holistic care, but human beings with access to it are living longer, healthier lives than at any other point in history. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.

  16. Nina says

    I just have to say, what a well researched, well balanced and well thought out article! You gave such wonderful advice to minimize the adverse effects of colonoscopies, as well as to encourage people to research and assess the real risks vs. the real benefits. I have extensive experience in “health”care and have seen the risks of procedures downplayed with no proper discussion comparing the benefits of the results to the risks of the procedure. There are REAL risks associated with every procedure and risk of infection is indeed one of them. Sterilization and cleanliness are real concerns with this procedure. Any time something goes inside your body (especially something that needs to be cleaned and sterilized and not just used new), there is a significant risk of infection, even when proper procedures are followed. And I have seen very ugly results when physicians “jam” tubes into orifices for convenience, rather than exercise patience. My field was cardiology, so you can imagine the worst case scenario I saw….a 53 year old man die when a catheter was jammed inside to speed things up. Sad thing, his family history of heart disease and chest pain that brought him and “warranted” the test were not heart disease in him. It is important for each one of us to take the accountability for our own health and the decisions we make. Thank you again! You have an understanding and thoughtfulness that few “health”care providers (and that includes physicians!) have.

  17. says

    I am so happy I saw this post! I have been saying for years there are ways to take care of this with out this procedure, I just never had all the information put together so well. Thank you for taking the time and care to get this all together here for all of us. It is important to take all things into consideration, especially when the medical profession has been hijacked by insurance companies.

    • Janis says

      When my husband started out in the insurance business 40+ years ago our company did not offer health insurance. Very few did, only what was called hospital surgical insurance. You see, insurance will only be purchased when the customer has a risk that is so great that they want someone else (ie insurance) to help with the cost. So until medicine became so expensive people couldn’t afford it, no one needed or offered insurance for it. Insurance companies didn’t create the problem.

      • Joe says

        What?? Insurance doesn’t cause problems?? Insurance companies should be renamed. They are really investment groups. Insurance premiums have to be paid regularly (and large corporations paying health insurance are loved as they predictably pay, and for many people’s premiums at once!), and the insurance companies basically use this HUGE cash flow to fund their investments in real estate and the stock market. The new health care program (called ObamaCare by many ….. but give Romney some credit …… call it Romney-ObamaCare) limits the the investment groups can charge for health insurance. So with this new law, 85% of the insurance premiums have be used in actual healthcare (includes operating costs of operating the administrative costs and executive bonuses), not funding for investment group’s speculating. And these so called “insurance companies” routinely charge a lot more so they can get more money for their investing goals, which is what they really want your money for. My brother, who works as an independent insurance agent says that in the car insurance arena, the companies consider it a bad sign if more than 60% of the premiums are used for the actual purpose of vehicle insurance. And that 60% includes the operating costs of providing the insurance.

  18. June says

    Thank you for this very timely article. I am booked in for my second colonoscopy which considered necessary because of risky family history. Your advice on the prep before the procedure and on how to help get your gut flora back after the procedure was very helpful. It has been on my mind on how to better prepare my body for the procedure. I remember all too well how uncomfortable my gut felt for at least a week after. Of course, it doesn’t help that the first food they offer you after the procedure is white bread sandwiches! My diet has considerably changed since then. No grains, sugar etc.

    Love your posts. Keep them coming.

  19. cece says

    I refuse to have a colonoscopy…for the reasons you state, and more. I’m tired of the medical industrial complex selling us fear. I don’t do mammograms either. No one is going to convince me that smashing my breast like a pancake isn’t harmful to the delicate tissue. And what we don’t hear enough about are the false positives. I didn’t go for the Fosamax either.
    I eat right, stay thin, don’t drink or smoke, and I exercise. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ll take my chances.

  20. Inkling says

    I’ve been reading for awhile, but never commented. But I have to say that this post struck a nerve. A really big one.

    I would be without the four most important people in my life right now were in not for colonoscopies and the early detection it provided in their lives.

    And, as someone who had a similar exam to detect a fistula that came from a traumatic childbirth, I think it is foolish to say that having a colonoscopy without some sort of muscle relaxant (or anesthesia) is a good idea. That part of the body needs to be able to relax in order for the procedure to detect all it needs to see. No matter the person’s will power or expertise in self-hypnosis or lamaze techniques, the muscles involved simply cannot relax thoroughly enough.

    The tips on how to get through a colonoscopy are good. But it is really, really irresponsible to incite fear and encourage people to skip out on the procedure altogether, especially for those of us with a family history of colon cancer.

    • Joe says

      With family history, I can understand. But I believe the colonoscopy is way oversold for those without a family history, and who follow a healthy diet & lifestyle.

  21. Dora says

    Those of you who wrote to say that you don’t need to get a colonoscopy because you practice a healthy lifestyle are being very naive. My mother practiced a healthy lifestyle too, and she would still be alive if her colon cancer had been detected early. It’s great that you are health-conscious, and of course, natural healing methods are preferable to medical interventions whenever possible. BUT, believing that this will make you “bullet proof” is just wishful thinking. The reality is, lots of folks who follow a healthy, natural lifestyle still contract terrible diseases. This is not a merit system and life is not always fair.

    • Theresa says

      ” believing that this will make you “bullet proof” is just wishful thinking.”
      I have to counter this with the fact that believing that blindly following modern medicine norms will make you bullet proof is also wishful thinking.
      Life is not fair, and what happened to your mother is very sad. My mother died from long term complications of the “treatment” of her cancer. If they had not performed the chemo after a masectomy (which was recommended by her doctor as a “precautionary” measure), I believe she would still be here today. There simply is no bullet proofing, but modern medicine is full of holes with the current trends in drugs, overload of diagnositc procedures and more drugs. We all have to do what we believe is right for us individually.

    • Joe says

      Did your mother have a family history of colon cancer? Again, it takes a family history of colon cancer, and NOT following a recommended lifestyle that make a case for a “routine” colonoscopy.

  22. Robin says

    As a nurse who is against vaccines, unnecessary procedures and most medicines unless absolutely necessary, a colonoscopy is absolutely necessary every 10 years and sooner if symptomatic. I have a family history of colon cancer so I am watched closely and with a gluten sensitivity and IBS-D/C giving some of the same symptoms as colon cancer, I’ve had to have several at the age of 45. I understand there are risks, but many, like myself who have what they refer to as a “torturous colon” simply cannot have the procedure without anesthesia. Trying not to move while in pain is more dangerous than being still and asleep. I know from experience. I eat an organic diet and live a healthy lifestyle, exercising, drinking the said cups of water per day, etc, etc…. and this is one test I would never tell people to forego.

    • Joe says

      But what if you did NOT have a family history of colon cancer?? I also worked as an RN before retiring. I don’t plan on having a colonoscopy as all the cancer in my family is lung cancer for those that choose to smoke….. not me. As long as I have a healthy lifestyle, I won’t have a colonoscopy. I found the doctor doing my initial “routine” sigmoidoscopy to be totally insensitive. I also have a tortuous colon, and the doctor pushed ahead with the sigmoidoscopy as stopping when I was in obvious discomfort, and rescheduling me when I would have someone with me to drive me home after a little sedation, would have been a loss of revenue. Instead, he pushed ahead so fast that I am not sure how he could visualize my lower colon anyway. But he did visualize positive revenue, and that’s what counts for some practitioners. As I was leaving, the assisting RN said I should have been sedated.

  23. Edie Ayer says

    I appreciate your suggestions for how to have a “safer” colonoscopy; but I disagree with NOT having a colonoscopy. Colon cancer is silent and deadly. I have a sister who had her FIRST colonoscopy at 52 years old, routine. She had NO SYMPTOMS OR SIGNS OF ANY PROBLEM. The colonoscopy indicate stage 4 cancer……..she died 9 months later. DO NOT SKIP A COLONOSCOPY………

  24. Lizzy says

    I was told I had UC then they removed my colon and told me it was Crohns. I follow the Paleo/ SCD/ Weston A Price mix diet now and have for 3 years…Your blog is like reading my life and I love it! I just wish I would have known all this stuff before they took my colon! Thankfully I have a jpouch and plan to hold on to that for the rest of my life! Ha! THanks for blogging about all this stuff! More people have got to take charge of their own health! I can’t stand going to the doctors anymore…Everything is pill this pill that…I’ll stick to my sauerkraut and raw milk thank you very much!

  25. Tiffany says

    I don’t regularly comment on blog post but as others have written, “this struck a nerve”. I understand that you have found some research that makes you feel better about not having a colonoscopy. I appreciate that you want to share that with the world. But if it prevents just one person from having a LIFE SAVING procedure, was it worth it?

    • Joe says

      Gosh, using that kind of logic, than all the Wal-Marts and Target should have armed guards to escort all the customers to their vehicles after shopping. After all, if it saves just one person …..

  26. Jenny says

    If you have HNPCC (and perhaps not even know it), following this advice (aside from not using anesthesia) instead of having regular colonoscopies would REALLY be stupid.

  27. says

    I had a colonoscopy done in 2011. I am a small person and do not handle anesthesia well, and we told the dr. He basically laughed it off and said that it was a simple procedure and that I would have not probs. I was laying down the entire time – I don’t think he knew how small my body is. Well, something happened during the procedure and sure enough I was sick as a dog after the procedure (throwing u) AND my lower back back went out. I was in pain for 4 months – I was miserable. I am never doing a colonoscopy again!

  28. KC says

    This is not at all related to your post….. but do you use turmeric and/or have an opinion on it for the use of holistic health?

  29. says

    Well that certainly focuses the attention!!! My husband had emergency surgery for colon cancer last September (symptoms literally came on over night) Thankfully it was 100% successful, but regular check ups are the order of the day now for 5 years at least.

    I think the colonoscopy happens after 12 months. I have had my concerns abut the procedure but this article has cemented them even more. Lots to think about !!!!

    We are doing all the anti cancer stuff re diet and supplements etc so hopefully reducing the chances of a recurrence

  30. says

    I eat according to the Weston A Price Foundation guidelines: traditionally. I keep my gut healthy and do not do colonoscopies.

  31. khara says

    Hi Lauren! Thank you for the well-researched information on this topic. I have UC too and recently had my first full colonoscopy. I’d been feeling pretty good leading up to it, and the report was encouraging, but about 2 weeks after the procedure I started having a flare that has yet to go away 4 months later. I was suspicious the colonoscopy did not help my situation. So glad to have more facts so I can make a better decision next time.

  32. Dineen says

    I’ve had both a flexible sigmoidoscopy to help diagnose IBS (rule out other issues, since IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, or at least it was 20 years ago when I was diagnosed) and a colonoscopy after my sister’s colon cancer diagnosis nearly 2 years ago. The prep for the colonoscopy was extremely harsh compared to the sigmoidoscopy and the general anesthesia much more difficult to deal with. I had actually never thought I would agree to a colonoscopy because my brother-in-law had experience one of the worst risks — a perforated colon during the procedure and dealt with a long recovery from the repair and clean-up with an incision that went from his sternum to his pubic bone.
    After the colonoscopy 2-years ago, I learned that my sister’s cancer is not genetic, saw Dr. Konstantine’s video and so I really began to regret the risks I had unnecessarily put myself through, having had no symptoms. Now I would decline routine screening, given the risks and current research about it’s ability to be a good screening tool.

  33. says

    My colonics professional told me colonoscopies are dangerous because the scope can tear the colon as it travels, especially when going around the sharp corners. If colon debris gets into the body cavity, you need to be rushed to surgery. Often times, they can’t get the patient there fast enough and he dies. The public isn’t warned about this. We are better off eating properly, like you said, and getting annual colonics to flush out for prevention.

    • says

      As I noted before, my spleen was torn during a “routine” colonoscopy. I was NEVER IMFORMED of this rare, but known (by docotrs) possibility! I feel the public DESERVES to be INFORMED BEFORE they risk their lives for a non-symptom, unnecessary, routine procedure such as this. I almost DIED! Informed consent regarding RISKS is EVERYONE’S RIGHT!! I wish I had been told. Minus a spleen and graced with a 6-1/2 inch scar I didn’t have before…I pray others at least have a FAIR opportunity to KNOW THE RISKS!!

  34. says

    Thank you for having the courage to write this article and sharing from your own experience. I think that it is important to understand the risks involved in invasive procedures that have become just a ” norm” in the medical profession. Thank you for sharing the preventatives that could also help.

    For those who are offended but this article, I think we need to consider that not everything that is advertised, expected, and the norm in the medical world is always in our best interest and can be harmful . ( not saying that sometimes it is not necessary) I think we need more people to write articles like this. And yes, despite one readers comments, I think your article was worth it!! THANK YOU.

  35. Johnette says

    I find the article with helpful infomation as I have just recieved it has been 3 years since my last one reminder.

  36. Carole says

    My doctor suggested a “routine” colonoscopy last year. I told him no thank you, that I don’t want any more of them. He just looked at me rather strangely, but said okay, you’re the boss. I really didn’t have a concrete reason for refusing it. I just felt somehow that I didn’t want it. I’ve had one, and it was a nightmare. I’m not into masochism, so I made the quality decision not to have any more. I’m 64, and if I should get cancer, then oh well. I doubt I will, though. It doesn’t run in my family, and I have had no symptoms to date. Now, with your article, I have good reasons to support my refusal. I’m going to print it and give it to my doc. I’ve already had to educate him on the correlation between wheat and arthritis pain. Might as well educate him on this as well!

  37. a concerned MD says

    I would implore your readers to give pause to the arguments being made here. A discussion with a Board-Certified health care professional would serve them best. Health care decisions are best made when based upon science and medical evidence.

    • JoeInMidwest says

      Other than age, I have no risk factors. With that noted, the risk from the procedure itself is relatively high. I choose to take my own chances, and realize that MDs, that don’t advise screening colonoscopies on everyone for age alone, risk having their income decreased with the current reimbursement system.

    • JoeInMidwest says

      If the only risk factor I have is age, then since my activity level is high, my diet has little red meat, and have no bowel issues, it seems that the risks from the procedure itself, which can be fatal, are about even with the risk of colon cancer. Why should I consult an MD whose income relies on how many procedures he does, and not on my health outcome??

  38. Sarah says

    Hi Lauren, Thanks for writing this. I’m 36 and I was gung ho about getting a colonoscopy ASAP when my father had emergency surgery to remove a softball-sized tumor from his colon. His cancer had spread to his liver. I have always been constipated and worry about my own colon, but my doctor said to wait till I’m 40. I’m nervous to think that something might be growing in there that could be caught early, but I’m trusting that my healthy traditional diet and reducing stress is keeping everything under control.

    I will probably get one when I am 40 just to be safe with my family history.

    Again, thanks for writing about this.

  39. JM says

    I think that there has to be a risk-benefit assessment done based on family history.

    I’ve had four relatives who have had colorectal cancer. My aunt and grandmother died from it. My mother (72 years old) is waiting for the results of her latest colonoscopy.

    I’ve had one done already, in my late 30s. I should get another soon now that I’m over 40. I despise them, the whole prep, procedure etc. but I am not just going to forego them and put my head in the sand when so many family members of mine have died needlessly. I have little kids and they need a mother.

  40. Ivy says

    A routine colonoscopy ruined my health. I was in perfect health, had healed my gut following a Weston Price diet. Had not taken so much as an aspirin in more than 5 years. Because I had had IBS years ago, the GI recommended a colonoscopy . I reacted to the anesthetic and had a cardiac event. The GI continued the procedure regardless. I had watery diarrhea for 9 months following the procedure, a few times landing me at the ER due to dehydration and changes In blood chemistry. Thousands of dollars and several different doctors later I healed through a naturopath and MD-turned-homeopath. It took one week on the GAPS diet to get back to normal, and 7 months to fully heal. As far as I am concerned, this procedure endangered my health in more ways than one. I’m only 37.

  41. Christeena says

    OMGoodness! I am 53 and am scheduled for a routine screening on July 3rd. I have changed my appointment twice because I just do not want to do this. I have no issues other than an internal hemmorioid that has caused some bleeding on rare ocassions. For this reason and because I’m over 50, my MD suggested it was time for a butt check of major porportions. There is no family history colon cancer and my sister has had a couple of beneign pholyps removed when she had a butt check due to bleeding from fissures. I am very healthy and eat pastured meats, my hen’s eggs, raw milk products, make my own yogurt and do beet kvass with very little wheat in my diet. I just don’t see the sense in messing with my gut. I’m so confused!!! After reading this, I want to cancel!

  42. Beka says

    I have to say that I disagree. If my mother-in-law would of had her routine colonoscopy, the small polyps could have been removed. However, she didn’t have it, the cancer spread to her liver and she passed away.

  43. says

    My mother had a BAD experience routine colonoscopy and she’s still dealing with it today. She was one of the “rare” cases of having a perforation from the device. She was then in pain when she got home and went to ER later where she found out that she needed emergency surgery to fix the perforation. Then she also caught a very nasty strain of C. difficile or C. diff (a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Illness from C. difficile most commonly affects older adults in hospitals or in long term care facilities and typically occurs after use of antibiotic medications.) This was most likely contracted at the hospital either during the colonoscopy (not properly disinfected?) or during her surgery (with tools also not properly disinfected and since she had to go on anti-biotics after surgery). In 80% of people, it will go away with proper treatment but is always in your system and gut bacteria. In 20% of people, the terribly painful diarrhea illness comes back multiple more times before it goes away. It’s come back somewhere between 8-10 times and she’s been on powerful anti-biotics since Dec 2012. Now finally a week ago (July 2013), the last resort was a “fecal transplant” and we hope to goodness that it will cure her and help her gut flora get back to normal but even that is questionable…. so sad. Mom is not even 50 yet, and we’ve been seeing her waste away in front of our eyes it seems with this terrible c.diff crap! Which of course the doctors and hospital refuse to give any compensation for since they refuse to say any of it is actually their fault. I am undecided on whether or not I will have this “routine procedure”. If I do, this was very helpful in reading to know that there are precautions to take before and after to help everything go smoothly. Also, make sure you get a very GOOD doctor and hospital for this procedure.

    • Brian says

      C diff is a bacteria in everyone’s colon. Frequent or a lot of antibiotic use kills off the normal flora of your bowel and allows it to grow. C diff is not from a unclean scope. Oddly enough more antibiotics are the cure for C diff.

      Sorry if my posts don’t sound quite right, I’m using my iPhone

  44. Suki says

    Please read “The Dangers of Colonoscopies” detailing the facts about all the perforations that happen during this procedure that no one ever talks about and the woman who was bleeding in the post below obviously experienced. The man who writes the “Roar of the Wolverine” details his medical nightmare after this happened to him and he ultimately required an intestinal transplant. You can read it here:

  45. says

    THANK YOU for saying all this!! At age 51, ‘ve never had one, and nor do I plan to. I’ve never had a mammogram either, nor do I plan to. I may get a Thermography one day. Maybe. We’ll see. Getting too many tests is just like opening a can of worms that you can never close again. So many doctors and articles are now saying that every human body at the age of 50 has a few cancer cells in them, but the body’s immune system overcomes them. We need to not interfere and let the body do its thing. They say if you get a test and then they find some small thing wrong, then they immediately want to cut it out, which creates more trauma which incites more disease. Thank you for validating the non-test approach.

    • says

      “Getting too many tests is just like opening a can of worms that you can never close again.” Well said! And I’m so glad you liked the post!

  46. Kate says

    All of the information about CROHNS disease says that they have not found out exacty what causes it! This information is not reputable because they dont een spell CROHNS disease right! My CROHNS disease is partgenetic thats why if a colonoscopy does look like Crohns diease there are also other ways of getting the diagnosis. My bowel were not as badly affected by crohns disease as my stomach was the most affected. To say that something as small as a bacterium on a scope causes crohns… I had my crohns before i ever got scoped.

  47. Brian says

    Very informative article, however some information is misleading and other simply wrong.
    National guidelines suggest a colonoscopy at 50yrs old. If colon cancer runs in fhe family it’s 40 or 45. I don’t recall which. Colon cancer is preventable yet it’s the number 2 killing cancer in the United States.

    Good GI specialists won’t use anesthesia but will use conscious sedation. There is a difference. Want to know why? Because its uncomfortable having and feeling a tube running through guts. Not only that when your awake you tend to cramp down and tighten your abdomen making it very difficult to advance colonoscope. The sedation is not so the doctor can ram the scope up real fast; besides, it has to be advanced slowly otherwise you risk having a perforated colon. Sad but true there are doctors who don’t take there time and I jury happens. The prep you drink doesn’t kill bacteria, they get flushed out. There is still bacteria in your colon after fhe prep. just not like there used to be.Diarrhea in general cleans your colon out whether from the prep or not. The risks of colonoscopy are bleeding, infection, and injury. Those risks are less then 1%, but are still risks. Can a colonoscopy cause Crohn’s disease ? Absolutely not. Crohns is genetic. Is the scope used sterile? Yes, unless its not treated correctly. Will a dirty a scope make you sick? Highly unlikely, do a google search for stool transplants and tell me what you think.
    I do agree about using probiotics. Enemas after a clean out will do nothing except make your diarrhea prolonged. Why? Parastoltic movement of your colon forces everything inside your colon to your anus. Your simply trying to force material against a very efficient pump.
    All this being said, I’m sure ill be flamed, but do some research and post the facts. No, I’m not a doctor. Let the flames begin I’m sure.

    • says

      No, I’m not going to create flames, so sorry to disappoint you :) I’ll just address a few of your points, though. I wish more GI docs bypassed the anesthesia but unfortunately it is still very common. Flushing the bacteria from the colon does leave it open to infection and it also causes a host of digestion and hormone issues down the line because our gut flora is absolutely foundational to our health. Colonoscopies can absolutely increase the risk of gut problems like chron’s and colitis by stripping the gut flora and it is simply inaccurate to state that Chron’s is fully genetic. It does have genetic factors but these only predispose a person, they don’t cause it. And fecal transplants are done with only extremely healthy donors… transplanting unhealthy bowel flora would do harm, just as the healthy flora does good. The enemas will be flushed but the purpose is to re-introduce the bacteria and a good portion of bacteria will populate the colon even though the enema is flushed.

    • Joe says

      I am saddened to hear about your mother-in-law. Did your mother-in-law have a posiitive family history of colon cancer, and how about her lifestyle though? Again, and again, I have seen arguments FOR a colonoscopy but no mention of family history, and/or physical health of the person discussed.

  48. Brian says

    Last post. Be careful what you encourage. If somebody does indeed have polyps , skips a colonoscopy based upon your website, they have grounds to sue if those polyps degenerate into cancer

  49. Ann says

    Thank you for posting. You re-enforced what i’ve saying for several years! Mammograms cause cancer! Colonoscopies are dangerous!!
    I’ve had two mammograms. The first one and the LAST one. I advocate bra-less-ness. I only wear one when I’m in public-which isn’t very often these days and wouldn’t do that if I could find a more comfortable solution for modesty. Same with colonoscopies. I care not that some distant relative had colon cancer (or maybe someone just thought they did.) I’m not them. I don’t eat what they did and don’t live like them. You Go Girl!!

  50. says

    Lauren, (Please do not publish my name or information.)
    Superb article based on my 40+ years of studying Wellness, on my own healing journey! Just praying that my daughter hears the truth in your words, and the supporting blogs, and forgoes plans for a non-essential ‘test.’
    Please keep up the good work!

  51. C Schwanekamp says

    I have had two colonoscopies in the past 6 years and each time I ended up later in the hospital with 2 separate cases of pancreatitis, both severe and the second more severe than the first. The first time it was 48 hours later, this time weeks. I don’t drink alcohol, I exercise regularly, I have under 10% body fat and I eat very clean 90% of the time. They are linked. I have had my last colonoscopy, maybe my last elective procedure of any kind.

  52. Brandy says

    I had a colonoscopy done after having some bleeding and IBS symptoms. They tore my bowel (a risk of the procedure) and I almost bled to death. I had to have several blood transfusions. The scary thing was I had my procedure on a Monday and on Wednesday I was feeling weak and out of breath coming up the stairs (my hemoglobin was dropping pretty quickly). I went to the bathroom and saw the blood in a bowel movement and that’s when I called the doctor and went to the hospital. Once there, I went to emerge, they were going to let me go and not once did anyone come and look at the amount of blood, the color etc.. they were asking me, but it was like they didn’t believe me. Finally, the doctor came in with my hemoglobin at 100 and said..we believe you and want to keep you overnight for monitoring… they kept asking about all these other possible reasons I could be bleeding for over 3 days..hello..I just had a colonoscopy!! long story short.. they decided to transfuse at 65 which I was told by a friend was below when they should have and they did it overnight. They were taking my blood to check to see how fast my hemoglobin was dropping. It was dropping really fast. They weren’t going to take my blood again until my step-father stepped in and advocated that it be done in another 2 hours because I was clearly still bleeding and waiting till the morning was not an option..had they have done that..who knows what would have happened. They had to go back in to stitch the tear. It was a horrifying experience..I know this is probably a rare occurrence, but it is another risk of having a colonoscopy done. Oh, and it was haemorrhoids that caused the bleeding… and they told me I had recommendations about what I could do to help my stomach…so now I follow a grain free, dairy free diet and supplement with probiotics, eat healing bone broth and I feel so much better! You can cure IBS and leaky gut with diet. It’s definitely not easy, but the alternatives are much worse! Thanks for your blog and the recipes you provide!

  53. says

    Thank you for posting this article. I agree with all points 100%. My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s in Fall of 2011. We have a long long story. But here are the major bullet points. In my opinion the medical community caused my daughters illness. They gave her an aggressive antibiotic as an infant strictly as a preventative measure (low grade fever gone in 2 hours). She was on said antibiotic for 3 days while I was in hospital recovering. When I took her home she developed severe yeast diaper rash and oral thrush because the antibiotic wiped out all the good bacteria. Many vaccinations later (further creating gut dysbiosis and weakened immune system) she had a severe reaction to a dpt shot at age 10. The Crohn’s symptoms began immediately after that shot and continued to get worse. Misdiagnosed by first GI, then 4 years later the 2nd GI turned us into CPS and 3rd GI pressured us into Remicade…she almost died. Down to 54 pounds at 4’11 age 17 it was a nightmare!!! After the one and only colonoscopy she did have, she couldn’t keep anything in her system and started passing tan fungal balls that floated in the toilet. BTW, to say the colonoscopy prep is invasive is an UNDERSTATEMENT. When these pea sized balls were placed in water the slippery outer covering disappeared and all that remained was a white fluffy ball (fungus). One year ago, she was almost dead, couldn’t go to school and was the saddest little girl you could ever meet. One year later using the WESTON PRICE principals she is 90 pounds 5 ft tall NO MEDS and healthy and happy. Needless to say I have NO use for GI’s or the medical community. They need to stick to trauma as that is when we need them. They understand nothing about healing and illness and that the body needs nutrient dense food and rest. Cancer by the way, imo, is about a weakened immune system and the body needs nutrient dense food to rebuild and heal not invasive tests and toxic drugs! Unfortunately I have never had a positive experience with a doctor. I am 50 and do not have an MD, am not on any drugs, never had a colonoscopy or mammogram and knowing what I know now about the medical community I never will.

  54. Mac says

    I am 47. I was referred to a surgeon because I had haemmorhoids (issues since childbirth with them) which required treatment. He said injecting them was the best option and then told me about a man who had been diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer and may have had a chance if it was found earlier and therefore convinced me to have both a colonoscopy and endoscopy as a precaution. It was a process line day surgery and I had the haemmorhoids injected, skin tag removed, endoscopy and colonoscopy where a couple of polyps were apparetnly removed – I was back in recovery so fast and as soon as I woke up they put me on a chair and I was in the car with my husband going home not 2 hours later. Since then I have had 2 bouts of colitis and 2 severe bouts of gastric acid “like explosions” in my stomach and bowel pain never had these before. Interestingly the haemmorhoids treatment was under $100 the rest well of course very expensive – the surgeon kept wanting to see me every 6 months and wasn’t interested in my issues following procedures kept saying I was fine so I stopped this 6 monthly donation to his bank account. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t. Looking back I was upsold just like a used car salesman might do.

  55. Zoé Ledoux says

    First, thank you for this post Lauren: lots of useful information! My four year old has just been diagnosed with Juvenile Polyposis. She had a colonoscopy and 12 polyps removed from her colon last month. I soooo wish I had read this before the procedure, as of course I would have done all of it. I will double up on probiotics for her now, but any other suggestions (from you or readers) for things to do at this point? Also, are any readers dealing with JP and, if so, would they have suggestions of reading material and treatment options? We have been told that there is no prevention and no treatment, other than yearly colonoscopies. Any discussion is very appreciated!

  56. Rayilyn Brown says

    I am 78, 18 years a Parkinson’s disease sufferer. Recently routine lab tests revealed iron deficiency anemia for which my primary care doc has sent me to a GI doc this Thursday. Since I’ve taken Prilosec over 10 years and didn’t know it puts you at risk for IDA, I asked him if I could wait until we can determine if the Prilosec caused IDA, he said “no”, couldn’t even wait til results of stool specimen tests were in. I have no symptoms like pain or bleeding, but Parkinson’s makes it hard for me to even go to the doctor. 35 years ago I survived ovarian cancer, but have no family history of colon cancer. I’ve had surgeries for arterio-venus fistulas 48 years ago and DBS brain surgeries for Parkinson’s for which I had to be awake in 2003.

    I’ve pretty much had my fill of surgeries and medical procedures, and fear the GI doc will push colonoscopy on me.

    I’m about to defy these docs, at least til I find out if I have blood in my stool. I’ve stopped Prilosec.

  57. Loretta says

    I too was grateful to see an article that collaborates the way I feel about all of the numerous routine screenings being done by doctors today. I have gotten so sick of being poked and prodded by doctors whose only goal is to spread the wealth that is being paid out by my health insurance. I was told to start getting mammograms at age 35, then the colonoscopy test started for me at age 51. I am now 58, have had about 5 mammograms and 1 colonoscopy. Any and all test were totally clean and normal for me. No major family health problems or personal health concerns or exams warrant the constant pressure from my doctor. So from now on I am taking charge and control of my own body and not giving in to these demands just because it is on their “checklist”.

  58. Petra says

    @C. Schwanekamp, you may want to check if they used propofol for your procedures — it is the most commonly used anesthetic for colonoscopies and there are links between it and pancreatitis (Google propofol and pancreatitis). In other words, it might not be the colonoscopy, just the anesthetic used (and you’d be well-advised to ask for a different one in the future).

    @Ivy, same to you — propofol has a risk for cardiac events, and I read somewhere that low carbohydrate intake and depleted glycogen stores can raise the risk. If you were on a Weston-Price type diet at the time, that might have played a role. Even if that was the case, any sane and ethical doctor should have immediately discontinued the propofol and the procedure, however!

  59. Dowain Krastel says

    After having a FIT stool test done at a BioMed Labratories which tested positive for blood in my stool, my family doctor recommended I have a colonoscopy done. I have not any history of colon cancer in my family. I dont have any bleeding when having a bowel movement. I am not experiencing any pain at all in the stomach area. I am a healthy, active 70 year old male. My weight has always remained the same over the years.
    I am against the screening recommended by my doctor because I do not see why it is necessary. My wife totally agrees with me because I am so healthy in my lifestyle including my diet and I am a non smoker.
    What do you recomment?

    • erika hanson brown says

      So….reading some of these comments, I feel that I need to comment.
      I felt the very same resistance to getting my own colonoscopy when I was in my 50’s.. I – like so many of these people – was one of you who would NOT ever have that test.
      Then, at 57 or so, I started to go to my doctor – presenting with symptoms and feeling terrible……and getting worse by the day.
      I HAD colon cancer, as it turned out; I was diagnosed with late-stage (stage iiic) colon cancer, and I almost died. Too many of my friends (staged at lesser stages than mine) HAVE DIED.
      HAD I had the colonoscopy when I should have (by the guidelines) I would NEVER have had to go through the trauma and pain of the disease. That colonoscopy would have resulted in that ONE POLYP being removed; it would never have turned into COLON CANCER. I would not have had to have major surgery (my spleen removed and a couple of feet removed surgically). Had I had that scope in time, I never would have had to go through the 6 months of toxic chemo that I did.
      I was very, very sick. YOU don’t have to go through what I did….
      if you have that colonoscopy.
      Colorectal cancer is the one cancer that is PREVENTABLE, TREATABLE, and (in my unusual case) BEATABLE.
      It’s my hope that all of you will GET SCREENED!!!!!
      Today I’m turning 70 years of age. And I’m so happy to BE ALIVE!!!!

  60. says

    I want to first thank Lauren for bringing the Love Your Butt Campaign to the attention of all her readers. My name is Michael Sapienza, I’m the President and Founder of the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation. My family founded Chris4Life after my mother Chris passed from colon cancer at age 59. She did not have a colonoscopy per the American Cancer Society national recommendations at age 50. My mom like 150,000 other americans each year was diagnosed with colon cancer and passed from the disease on the day after mothers day in 2009.

    This article is completely misleading, and absolutely not based on fact. That being said please note that the colonoscopy is not the only screening test available for colon cancer, so please visit our website at to get more information.

    Below are all links that support the use of a colonoscopy as the “standard” for early detection of colorectal cancer.

    In addition 98% of colonoscopies are performed without incidence in the United States. Only 2% of colonoscopies have complications and only 1% need follow up surgery.

    Please make sure next time when posting information about a life saving screening for the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths that you do your research. This article is completely misleading and irresponsible to the health and welfare of millions of americans.
    Thank you


    • says

      I appreciate your comment and I believe we share the same passion – helping others stay well and prevent colon cancer. However, I strongly stand by my research and believe that sharing this alternative view and little-known facts about colonoscopies is a service to my audience. As I have shared here, the majority colonoscopies are not “performed without incidence” because “incidence” isn’t as narrow as puncturing the colon. “Incidence” in my book covers damaging the gut flora, which is a strongly protective measure for colon health.

      I think a wonderful resource to help prevent colon cancer is the Paleo/Primal Diet, and perhaps this is something you wish to look into and share with your own audience. It drastically reduces carbohydrate malabsorption, which contributes to leaky gut and fermentable carbohydrates that escape digestion and feed pathogenic bacteria in the large intestine. It also helps balance blood sugar and hormones, which is a strongly health-protective measure.

    • Sandy says

      Michael, I do not expect ANY medical screening test that I might contemplate to EVER have the remotest possibility of requiring that I might need surgery to recover from it. That is not a “screening”, that is invasive in the extreme.

      A PAP test is a screening. An endoscopy is a surgical procedure. Without any risk factors, I say “nyet!”

  61. academicdoc says

    Lauren: Good article. I hope that nobody reads my opinion as factual (I have a medical degree, but my work is basically research)….I think that colonoscopy is a great screening tool with a high diagnostic yield…but I think that that the “sedation” is way too risky….if a patient can’t find an endo doc to do his/her colonoscopy unsedated..skip it…most “insist” on’s not for your comfort or for’s to induce amnesia (sometimes lifetime)so that the exam can be done quickly and get the patient out the door in a fog..I doubt that an unsedated colonoscopy has ever resulted in a perforated colon………………………….

  62. Bill says

    I think he means to write ‘incidents’ , not “incidence” … either way he is less reliable by the misspelling ….reduces his creds by showing unpolished language / typing skill.

  63. Susana B says

    I am glad I cancelled my first Colonoscopy. I have $5000 deductibe being self-employed and my dentist suggested laser procedure for peridontal thing which will cost $5k.
    Thinking of travelling to other countries to get healthcare.

    Women should learn about less invasive and costly EUS (endoscopic ultrasound) and breast thermography.

  64. Jeremy says

    I stumbled across your blog here doing research, and I just thought I would inform you that a new stool DNA colon cancer screening test is going before the FDA next week, and will likely be approved.

  65. MB says

    Unless you have a chronic problem there is no reason to suggest these invasive procedures to people, Of course medical professionals are going recommend them on a regular basis. That’s how they make money. In the end every person is their own best advocate and they make the ultimate decision. There are plenty of people in all age groups subjected to much testing that is not necessary. Some of the major cancer organizations and well as health professionals have stated it cannot be proven conclusively that these tests really do improve mortality rates.

  66. Laura says

    Okay so to sum up it seems that those who have a family history of cancer are upset with this article and those who don’t, think it’s the best thing since sliced pizza.

    Here’s my question, whether you think it is a good thing or not, why can’t the endoscope be cleaned properly or removable sheaths be used ALL THE TIME????? WHAT THE?!?!?

    Do you really want a used tool that can’t possibly be cleaned properly going through your intestine?????? The same people that tell us to wash our hands are okay with this??????? Sorry I don’t get it and for the record, I am now 50 and have NO history of cancer (for me or my family) and my doctor is encouraging me to have the procedure – the doctor my gyno referred me to has called my home and sent me a letter about it – Seems like a money thing to me…

    • JoeInMidwest says

      If your only risk is age, then the risks from the procedure itself seem unacceptable to me as well. Especially since MDs, under our current reimbursement system, only get paid for doing procedures, not for our outcomes.

  67. Laura says

    We need to ask the doctors who are performing the colonoscopies if they ask for protection (IE- removable sheath) when they get theirs…

  68. Rick says

    I am scheduled for a colonoscopy August 19, 2014. Since my attendance at a preparation class, I’ve had ill feelings about this whole procedure. Presenters to the crowd of over 300 people, were skeptical at times and did state that perforation was possible and that emergency surgery would then be required. Also, all attendees were strongly encouraged to have sedation and would not remember anything of the prodecure. I’ve spent the last 3 weeks on the internet, considering all the pros and cons of this prodedure. Check it out for yourselves everyone – THE CONS VERY MUCH OUTWEIGH THE PROS. I have made a decision to cancel my appointment and am seeing my family doctor this week to let him know of my decision. When you read that your chances of injury or death from colonoscopy is more likely than dying from colon cancer, I’m not sure why someone would roll the dice like this so that any doctor’s paycheck or annual bonus would be a bit fatter. No thanks colonoscopy companies. I trust God far more than I’d ever trust you. Thing is – He works for free and never hurts you.

  69. Shelly says

    Totally absurd article. I have a family history of colon cancer and have had two colonoscopies. The doctor found non cancerous polyps that if left untreated could become cancer. I had no symptoms. I live a very healthy lifestyle. Considering the test is really no big deal, anyone would be a fool not to rule out cancer. Read the cancer stats regarding colon cancer, especially people with a family history. I had the procedure, had no complications and will resume my life without polyps. If you are over 50 or have a history of colon cancer this SIMPLE test can save your life. Doing nothing in my opinion is foolish.. Colonoscopy is really no big deal..

    • JoeInMidwest says

      Since you have a family history, then the colonoscopy would make sense, but for those who have NO family history, and have a lifestyle with little red meat, high activists levels, and other such healthy activities, the actual risk from the procedure itself is unacceptable. The colonoscopy is the most invasive screening test that can lower risk from colon cancer but if the risk of colon cancer is very low related to NO family history, and a healthy lifestyle, then there comes a point at which having the procedure itself is a bigger risk than the risk of having colon cancer.

  70. Sandra says

    I had a sister-in-law who never had the test. She is dead now. 4th stage colon cancer took her life. Don’t be a putz, get the colonoscopy.

  71. John says

    I am confuse because I am 64 and feel fine, Never had a colonoscopy. I am schedule to take one in two days.
    Just because of my age. my doctor want me to take one, After reading all of these replies, I am confuse and don’t want to cause hurt to myself. T gave this to my God and He will lead me to the correct way. I trust in God for my health

  72. Kiki C. says

    I know this article is old…but I want to say thank you,I wish I read it sooner. I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy performed last week. Did the bowel prep…mind you I have already been diagnosed with IBS and Celiac Disease. While the doctor was in there he decided to do banding…..well needless to say a healing time that takes 48 hours has been 2 weeks now for me. As a survivor of Lupus I understand my disease leads to other health issues…but the pain that I am going through because of this procedure has been horrifying, I rather run naked in the street on fire.

    No bathroom for the first week and when I did go, multiple tears (fissures) and as the doctor said when I returned multiple thrombose clots. Mind you I did not enter the hospital that way. I can barely sit upright past 3 minutes on the bed. I have had a total of 3 colonscopy’s and each time, I have realized my body has gotten worse. I am now trying to heal naturally with juicing, veggies and deep breathing.. I hope no body goes through this ever.

  73. Sandy says

    My doctor, a young woman, is pushing me for colonoscopy, mammogram, and pap tests. I’d really rather be tested for an abdominal aortic aneurism, as that runs in my family. I don’t have any risk factors requiring the first three tests. I’ve been a vegan all my life, gluten free/grain free, no cancer in my family. I’ve had two children and breastfed them for a total of seven years. I’ve never had an abnormal pap test in my entire life. Now I’m a 58 year old extremely healthy and active widow. I just do not see the need for any of these tests, nor do I ever plan to seek treatment should I find myself with the diseases these tests are supposed to discover.

    Let’s not forget the flu shots, she’s pushing! I’ve never had one. I’ve never had the flu. My immune system is uncompromised and I lead a natural lifestyle. If I feel slightly off, I eat twice as many cultured vegetables and move on. So, I’m saying NO, NO, NO! To all of the above, NO!!!

  74. jerry says

    I recently turned 50 and my PCP (a fantastic doctor who actually listens to her patients) recommended that I get a screening colonoscopy; we are good friends and we both work in clinical practice (mine is research). She was surprized when I declined the test, but asked me why I declined since I was a knowledgeable medical professional etc. I told her that the risks of the colonoscopy itself are indeed minimal; perforations, infections etc are rare indeed. The prep is certianly not that bad and the diagnostic yield (problems found) is very high; in fact, colonoscopies and mamograms have the most “bang for the buck” any test that I can think of. My concern has been with the fairly high number of patients that have complained of significant long-term memory loss from the so-called “conscious sedation” that accompanies most colonoscopy studies. Many sedation protocols include Versed (midazolam) and this drug causes significant amnesia (that’s why it’s used); the amnesia is supposed to be for the duration of the colonoscopy but can be for a much longer period of time (sometimes lifetime). Few patients are ever informed that they will be given Versed/midazolam to cause them to forget the procedure; they are only told that it’s “sedation” which is not true. Sedation protocols that do not include midazolam, usually propofol and a narcotic of just propofol only don’t seem to have significant long-term memory impairment issues..but propofol sedation can be expensive. I have seen way to many patients with long-term memory damage after “conscious sedation” for colonoscopy..and since few patients are told the true nature of the amnestic drugs that they received, patients with memory loss issues rarely associate their problem with being given Versed/midazolam….therefore the number of patients with Versed/midazolam-induced memory loss us much higher than reported. O.K., off my soapbox. My doc’s daughter is an anesthetist and agrees that she would not want Versed/midazolam for her own colonoscopy either….but that most patients get it under the guise: “it’s to keep you happy” which is misleading and really scares me. The anesthetist offered to do my case with propofol for free since I’m friends with her mom, but I politely declined since I no longer trust the anethesia personnel since I see that they routinely lie to patients about Versed/midazolam and what it actually does..this is a very commonly used drug. I guess that I’m being a little childish about mistrusing anesthesia..but the anesthetist says that I actually see the situation clearly and her mom (my PCP) is really upset about the dishonest way that patients are given Versed/midazolam without proper disclosure of the memory loss problems.

  75. robin says

    I have recently turned 70 and my PCP has requested I have another colonoscopy, even though I had one at 50 and another at 60 which were both completely clear — not even a hint of a polyp. Until I was 43 I ate pretty much a basic Western diet, then, after reading “Laural’s Kitchen”, I became a vegetarian and for the next two decades I grew most of my own food organically. In the late 90’s some (local and/or organic) meat was introduced back into our diet because a well-respected naturopath in this area recommended it as my retired husband was doing most of the work renovating our old farmhouse and he needed additional protein. While I don’t grow my food any longer, I continue to eat a far more mindfully than most Americans and my GI system works just fine.

    I never had a problem with the first colonoscopy, however, in my late 50’s I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue and when I had that procedure at 60, the prep literally took me down physically for well over a month at an acute level (i.e. intense all-over body pain/fatigue so severe I could barely move off the couch). The relapse continued at a less extreme level for months afterwards. I realize I’m making a judgement call here, but the blowback for me personally is too intense, plus I’m 10 years older and it would probably be even more disabling that it was back then. From what I have read, in most cases once a polyp does present itself, metastasizing usually takes another 20 or more years. By that time I’ll be about 90 (if I make the assumption that a polyp has already developed in the past 10 years). I may well be very short-sighted, but I am not going to have another colonoscopy — I can’t withstand the kind of physical incapacitating for. I will, however, look into some of the other, less invasive, alternatives if my PCP insists that I do Something. Ultimately, though, as a patient I have the final say — even if comes to signing off on my decision so the doctor and the practice is held harmless.

  76. Lorraine says

    I had my colonoscopy 40 years ago and ended up with a perforated bowel which still bothers me at age 68. I had three children to look after under three and it was hell on earth just to keep going the pain was incredable. I am told I should have another and I am refusing I would rather enjoy travelling and die happy than go through all the complications I had to overcome with the first one. My motherinlaw at age 84 had swollen ankles and was told she had to have a colonoscopy, we begged her not to have the procedure as she was in perfect health lived in her own home, maintained a beautiful garden, and was driving her jeep everywhere. She didn’t listen to us and within an hour of the procedure we were called that she had had a massive stroke while under anesthesia, she was in Icu for weeks while we had to find a nursing home for her. She no longer could walk, talk, or recognize any of her family. This strong lady went in for a simple procedure and came out a vegetable, she lived like this for two more years with no quality of life, my husband has never gotten over that the doctor killed his mom. Needless to say he would rather me die from bowel cancer than to go through the risks and pain we have suffered as a family due to so called screening. Eat properly enjoy life use your money for travel and fun.,exercise but stay away from doctors and drug companies that are causing a lot of our modern day problems.

  77. Donna says

    I had a colonoscopy 3 years ago and my spleen was lacerated. You never hear about this happening because it is rare, but when I woke up in pain under my left rib cage they told me to go home and exercise. And i was bleeding internally.

  78. Patrick says

    Please take all of this with a grain of salt. I have had colonoscopies since I was 11 and I am now 51. My dad’s entire side of the family was inundated with colorectal problems, and many of them died before reaching their late 60s. Guess who died? Those that did not believe in doctors and/or did not follow the prescribed diets and regular check-ups upon being diagnosed. Unless you are getting your procedure done in a back alley or a ill-reputable clinic, or south of the border, chances are you are in good hands. My colon problems–ulcerative colitis, IBS & diverticulitis, have all but completely gone away in my later years. In my earlier years, I was having multiple episodes weekly/monthly, and I was told back in the day that I could expect to be using a colostomy bag by my mid-30s. What has turned my life around is regular scoping, animal fats (proven to be a healthy plus for colons by the AMA in the 1980s, and it is still true), and a near-vegan diet of whole foods. Be educated, be informed, but don’t be stupid. Colonoscopies have improved my life due to early detection.

  79. Kosta says

    You are saying “We have 4-6 pounds of bacteria in our gut.”
    Is this real? Pounds- not ounces or grams? I mean bacteria only.
    Can you confirm this statement once more?

  80. says

    Yes, I purposely delayed a colonoscopy. I am 71 and both my parents died of colon cancer, so I am on “the 5 year- return- for- another- one” plan, but my last one was 8 years ago and the gastroenterologist snipped out a small benign polyp and the next day I hemorrhaged from the site requiring emergency care, hospitalization, blood transfusions and platelet transfusion and another colonoscopy to stitch the site of the bleed..
    I am going this month for a colonoscopy….to a surgeon not a gastroenterologist…and I am doing my own prep, not theirs (thank you just the same) and I am going to take your advice about restoring my gut flora.
    I always refuse anesthesia because I am a nurse and many times anesthesia is not required for the little bit of cramping involved with the procedure. I do let them start an IV so that if anything goes wrong, they have access for meds including anesthesia meds.

  81. Layla says

    Thanks for completely freaking me out about this procedure which is essential to follow-up on what may be cancer. I’ve been off work for 6 months and have had repeated attacks of bowel infections. And now that I HAVE to have a colonoscopy I have your blog post to terrify me even more.

    • Butta Bing says

      Please don’t be afraid or freaked out. I just went through the entire colonoscopy process and it’s not that bad. The prep is grueling, but don’t do it alone! Have a prep buddy (the person who will take you to your procedure), drink lots of fluids (clear), and ask your doc for some anti-anxiety meds for the prep. It does leave you feeling drained, tired and shaky. Pediolyte was my life-saver after the prep and before the procedure, and so were the white grape juice jello jigglers I made. The colonoscopy itself is painless. They give you an IV right away so your fluids are replaced, then they put you in a nice deep sleep and before you know it you’re back up and it’s over. Peace of mind is priceless. The person who created this blog is not a professional, nor does it sound like she’s gone through the procedure herself. She has only included horror stories, which I’m guessing are the small percentile, and success is the large percentile. Do it, your butt will thank you.

  82. Colleen says

    One risk you did not mention is the risk of kidney damage from the prep solution. The risk is lower than it used to be since sodium phosphates have been mostly replaced by safer alternatives, but there is still some risk regardless of the type of solution. My dad suffered kidney damage that eventually led to kidney failure and dialysis during the last few years of his life. I have refused to submit to a colonoscopy because I believe the risks outweigh the benefits in my case, but every individual has to consider the risk vs. benefit ratio for themselves. If I had any family history of colon cancer, I might have made a different decision.

  83. B says

    Well now I am scared out of my mind. I am scheduled for one on Friday and. Now I am wondering if there is another way to approach my symptoms. Maybe I will put it off again have been putting it off for six months. One thing that is interesting parasites might explain all of my sysmptoms. Is it dangerous to have this procedure if it might be parasites? Any advice is welcomed. I am 26 no history of colon cancer in family and all my symptom started after food posioning dec 2013. Seriously freaked.

  84. John says

    The late Tony Snow, former press secretary/Fox News analyst, died from colon cancer. I believe his mother did as well. I believe he followed the colonoscopy regimen to the letter, yet still succumbed to death from colon cancer.
    He died far too young, but still died after doing what he felt was his best deterrent.
    My point is, it failed. He’s just one of many, who foolishly think this procedure saves lives.

    Live your life as healthy or unhealthy as you wish, it’s your decision. Nobody that I’m aware of has ever checked out of here alive.

  85. Butta Bing says

    You can replace the flora and bacterium in your stomach immediately afterward by eating yogurt and pro-biotics. I imagine seeing a reputable GI doc reduces the risk of perforation. But doesn’t the risk of perforation outweigh the risk of not just colon cancer, but also colitis, Crohn’s, diverticulosis, polyps and other GI disorders? Don’t you want to know if you have a little polyp in your colon? They remove those little polyps because they grow into bigger polyps and could turn into cancer. Maybe you’re afraid of the prep? I just did a prep last Thursday, and had my colonoscopy Friday. The prep was brutal, but I survived. The colonoscopy was a piece of cake! The peace of mind afterward is priceless. If you can think of a better way to view the colon, I’d like to hear it. From what I see on your page here, none of your references are peer-reviewed scientific research articles. Anyone who is scared to get a colonoscopy should set aside their fears, and have it done. Get a colonoscopy buddy and do the prep and procedure together. And stop reading these fear-based articles.

    • Butta Bing says

      I’m sorry, typo – should read: “doesn’t the risk of not just colon cancer, but also colitis, Crohn’s, diverticulosis, polyps and other GI disorders outweigh the risk of perforation?”

    • JoeInMidwest says

      Google ‘colonoscopy horror stories.’ MANY people have far different colonoscopy experiences. Many times it is related to insensitive, callous MDs that are just interested in getting a certain number of patients through regardless of the patients’ comfort level.

  86. Mary Krizan says

    At my recent annual physical, my doctor said I was due for a colonoscopy. But she also said I can consider an option: stool tests. If I receive negative results three years in a row from these stool tests, the results are considered as effective as the colonoscopy procedure. I think it’s a very safe option, because I don’t have any current problems or any family history of colon cancer. So I don’t want to put myself at risk unnecessarily by doing the colonoscopy. I’ve already had two of them and am now 71 years old. (I have a classmate whose bowel was perforated at her last procedure, so it isn’t all that uncommon!)

  87. ann says

    Why would anyone in this day an age go through a barbaric screening that is 60 years old???? Virtual is the way to go, yes you need to prep, but its less rigorous. Just some CO2 pumped in. The lazer flies through your body looking at EVERY ORGAN NOT JUST THE COLON. Scopes are filthy amnesia anesthesia causes you no to be able to form new memories that why people say “You don’t member a thing” 5 plus ft of filthy tubing, plus snippers in an unprotected colon… Virtual in 2015 is the way to go and I bet many more people would be screened.
    People do you homework, get screend but do it the safe way, if a polyp is found have a discussion with Dr on removal not snipped out while you you are “out of it”

  88. paul says

    Great website! At age 40 I needed to undergo colonoscopy because I have the FAP gene which means that I have a high probability of developing colon cancer. Every suggestion made in this website it spot-on (diet etc) and I would normally skip colonoscopy, but my genetics pretty much make getting one essential. One real risk of colonoscopy is that most patients are badgered into accepting toxic “conscious sedation” which is totally unecessary for colonoscopy. Patients are made to believe that conscious sedation is pleasant and peaceful when in fact it’s usually just a shot of a mind-numbing amnesia drug such as Versed (Midazolam) that forces patient compliance and causes a temporary “amnesia” of the exam. I have seen too many patients screaming during colonoscopy and begging the doctor to stop only to have the nurses ignore the pleas and say “he/she won’t remember this”..the poor patient is hustled out the door in a fog while everyone tells them how wonderful the colonoscopy was. Wrong. Then the patient gets home and remembers the pain and how roughly they were treated…many end up with PTSD and long-term memory loss for a very long time. Amnesia drugs such as Versed are very common and a terrible way to treat any human being. Some colonoscopy docs use Propofol which is stronger and more expensive…given usually by a semi-trained sedation nurse anesthetist…it’s usually o.k. unless something goes wrong….then you really wish that you had an anesthesiologist not an anesthetist (Nurse)..but most people will just get the crna/nurse and it’s not really safe…Long story short:: I insist that my colonoscopy is done without drugs of any kind and they are pretty comfortable and totally safe. Just had one yesterday. To get a colonoscopy without toxic and unecessary sedation you have to put this on the consent: “I’m not consenting to sedation, anesthesia or any anesthesia-related services”. Do not accept a verbal promise. If you add this to the consent, you will not get toxic sedation and the doctor will have to do a slow and careful colonoscopy; they can’t do a rushed exam and shove the scope into a “sedated” amnestic patient..if you are awake they have to take time to do a proper exam and it will be essentially painless. Many docs discourage an unsedated exam because they like a sedated helpless patient so thta they can rush an exam……..if you ask for an unsedated exam don’t be surprized if you are refused…..I suggest scheduling the exam then telling them that you don’t want sedation at the last possible moment………just before the exam when the chatty anesthetist asks you to sign a sedation consent…don’t sign and add: “I’m not consenting to sedation, anesthesia or anesthesia-elated services” You will get a better,safer exam with at most gas pains. Any decent doctor will agree to unsedated colonoscopy…tell them just before the exam (not when you schedule or you will be refused by a clerk or anesthetist not a doctor)…….just had my 4th unsedated colonoscopy and it was easy….

    • JoeInMidwest says

      Comfortable for you maybe, but just google ‘colonoscopy horror stories’ and you will see MANY people who were not only uncomfortable, but actually in pain. I had a sigmoidoscopy 15 yrs ago which required little prep and the device is only 1/3 the length of a colonoscopy. I guess I have a tortuous colon because it was NASTY BEYOND BELIEF. And I have a high threshold. Other than age, I have no risk factors, plus a healthy lifestyle, so the only risk factor I perceive is that some MD would lose my revenue stream for a colonoscopy plus any potential money from treating related complications. I accept that I have a very small risk of colon cancer, just as I could be a victim of the next mass killing if I leave my home for some social function. Life is risky.

  89. Pat says

    I am scheduled to have a colonoscopy in a couple weeks because I turned 50 this year. I have no symptoms. I am also a medical doctor in otherwise excellent health. Somewhere in all the available information we should be able to answer the question of how often serious complications occur in healthy persons having a screening colonoscopy. That information remains elusive however.

    This push for routine screening bothers me primarily because it introduces an unnecessary surge in patient volume that the medical industrial complex isn’t prepared to manage. The question of equipment cleanliness warrants serious consideration because these endoscopes are effectively being used much more often, now that our society has accepted this mandate. The facility is doing 40-50 colonoscopies/day. The letter I have received from the facility in anticipation of the procedure has instructed me to refrain from a long list of certain common foods for a 5 day period before this screening procedure. This is nonsense and I know enough about what is really going on to state that such a regimen is necessary to allow the procedure to be quickly performed, allowing for a much larger number of colonoscopies to be completed in a system initially designed for a less busy schedule.

    I plan on deferring this procedure until I actually have a symptom

  90. JoeInMidwest says

    After reading so many comments, it strikes me as odd that so many will refer to a friend or family member who might be alive if only …… with the comment of just get the test. However, the larger question is that of the risk factors, with that of family history being VERY IMPORTANT, plus those of lifestyle. If someone’s ONLY risk factor is age, then the actual risks from the colonoscopy itself are huge, from perforation, incapacitating infections, kidney failure and on, which could be fatal. And remember that MDs, in our current reimbursement arrangement, will only get paid for doing procedures, not for helping our health outcomes and certainly not for our comfort level. Just remember to weigh the risks to you for colon cancer vs the risk inherent to the colonoscopy procedure itself. If you want to be perfectly safe, then maybe calling 9-1-1 for a police escort from your car into the Walmart store itself is also needed.

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