Let’s talk about Colons!

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and there’s a lot of information out there to help prevent and treat this disease. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, so hopefully this can serve as a guide and talking point for you and your medical doctor.

According to Colorectal Cancer Alliance, the rate of colon cancer is decreasing in older adults and increasing in younger adults. From 2009 to 2013, the rate of incidences in individuals younger than 50 has increased from 6 to 11%. This alarming increase is calling for earlier screening, especially those with pre-existing factors such as close family members with any cancer diagnosis, being overweight, and suffering from bowel disorders, such as Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

In addition to early screening, living a healthy lifestyle is an expected given. Most people are aware of the importance of a diet high in fiber, eating lean meats, drinking lots of water, and daily exercise. Most are aware that you should have a daily bowel movement (pooping), that it should be firm, yet exit without strain. However, if you suffer from constipation or diarrhea for days (or weeks), have a bloody stool, abdominal discomfort due to gas or cramps, you should definitely talk to your healthcare provider for colon screening.

But let’s say you are relatively healthy, no existing colon-rectal cancer factors, and you just want to cleanse your colon. What is the safest and most effective way to cleanse your colon? How often should one detox as a preventative measure?

Colon hydrotherapy is one method for a good flush, no pun intended. By using a gentle influx of purified water through the rectum, the colon is gently cleaned and the natural movement of the bowels that were previously overworked and overloaded with fecal matter is restored. Luckily, San Antonio has a local office for the International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy and they are happy to work with you and your doctor to decide if this is a good option for you.

Oral cleanses are more common and can be taken by pills, powdered formulas, or herbal teas. Although the response can be more intense than colon hydrotherapy, it usually takes longer to get the desired results.

It’s worth saying that the healthcare community is divided on the topic of colon cleansing. According to MD Anderson Cancer Center, colon cleansing should only be used to prepare for colonoscopy as consistent cleansing can remove the healthy bacteria that is in your gut. Other doctors, such as Dr. Leonard Smith, board certified gastrointestinal surgeon in Gainesville, Florida highly recommends colonics for colon health. Dr. Smith “..believes that normally healthy people will find it valuable to take colon hydrotherapy every couple of months.”

I encourage you to talk with your doctor to find out what is best for your colon and individual health profile. The more educated and informed we are, the better equipped we are to fight colon cancer.