“My recent colonscopy showed colon polyps and I need to go back in three years. Is there anything else I can do?”
This is a question I am frequently asked, and the good news is that polyps he/she removed are history. They won’t bother you any more. The surveillance is to look for NEW ones. Frequent colonscopy is a great way to reduce colon cancer risk, as well as to get some really great naps.
If you were told to repeat your scope in three years, the polyp biopsy most likely showed adenomas. Adenomatous polyps do not ALWAYS become cancer, but they have a much higher rate of malignant transformation than others types of polyps, so they are considered PRE-cancerous. It is odd to me that the GI’s almost never ask WHY you got these adenomatous polyps in the first place, or offer advice on what you might do to prevent NEW ones.There are SIX things you should do.
- First: Take Vitamin D. Use whatever dose it takes to get your blood level up to 55ng/mL. For me personally, this takes 5000 IU per day. This one intervention will reduce your risk of colon cancer by 60%. Gorham ED, et al. Am J Prev Med. 2007;32:210-6)
- Next, get tested for MTHFR gene mutation. Folic acid is critical to a healthy gut. If you are positive for this gene mutation, your folic acid metabolism is impaired and you need special “activated B12 and folic acid”. Suggested doses are 500-1000 mcg of methyl B12 and 400 mcg of methyl folate, more if you have a double gene mutation. Autistic kids have a very high % of double mutations, one from each parent. If you have the mutation, test your kids.
- Third. Eat a high fiber diet. 30-40 grams per day is the minimum, such that you poop 1-3 times EVERY DAY. If you won’t eat that much, take a (gluten free) fiber supplement.
- Fourth: if you need to, lose weight (fat mass). Fat cells make abnormal hormones that fuel cancer. Obesity is a major risk factor for colon cancer.
- Fifth: Take a probiotic. We are just beginning to understand their role, but if you have ever taken an antibiotic, a steroid, or had high lifestyle stress, your gut health will likely be improved with a probiotic.
- Last. (good luck with this one, although it will likely help # 4 as well as improve your blood sugar, blood cholesterol, blood pressure, brain function and many many other benefits) Give up all wheat and sugar. Abnormal cancer and pre-cancer cells LOVE sugar. It is their favorite fuel source. Don’t eat it and it will choke them before they multiply. Dr Alessio Fasano–the world’s best regarded gluten/celiac specialist– tells us that 100% of people who eat wheat get an inflammatory response. Inflammation starts the pathway that triggers cancer cells. Furthermore, gluten triggers a specific inflammatory peptide associated wish colon cancer.
There is MUCH more that can be done if you have GI symptoms, and a specialist in holistic or functional medicine can guide you in a 4R gut recovery program, but the six steps outlined above and regular colon screening increase your chances of never receiving that awful cancer diagnosis.