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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine December 2004

The Colonoscopy Dilemma

Dilemmas of Early Detection
Cancer phobia has become so prevalent that enormous amounts of money are spent every year on diagnostic procedures and lost labor productivity. If you develop any type of symptom that could possibly be cancer, and then enter that symptom into an Internet search engine, you will find multiple independent sources recommending that you run to a specialist to have the suspicious lump, pain, or other symptom investigated to rule out cancer.

Cancer diagnostic tests can be expensive, inconvenient, and sometimes dangerous. Yet the American Cancer Society urges that more Americans undergo these diagnostic procedures to reduce cancer mortality rates. We at Life Extension agree.

One problem is that there are not adequate economic or physician resources to provide all the cancer-screening diagnostics now being recommended by the government and various cancer organizations. It can take months to get a colonoscopy appointment. Just imagine if almost everyone who was supposed to have a colonoscopy decided that they would endure the inconvenience and undergo the procedure. The waiting list would swell to years, as there simply are not enough gastroenterologists to perform that many procedures.

With the aging of the population, more Americans are susceptible to cancer than ever before. The government is addressing this problem by encouraging Americans to eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables every day. Consumption of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, along with reduced intake of carcinogenic foods, is considered a proven method of lowering cancer risk. The problem is that the amount of fruits and vegetables the government says is necessary to reduce cancer risk is beyond what is practical for most people to eat every day.

Dietary supplement companies offer products that contain concentrations of fruit and vegetable nutrients that may help to reduce cancer risk, but the government does not allow companies to advertise their products for the purposes of cancer prevention. The result is that many Americans do not supplement with the nutrients that are most likely to reduce their cancer risk.

For instance, supplementation with folic acid for 15 years was shown to reduce colon cancer incidence by 75% in the famous Nurse’s Health Study conducted at Harvard Medical School.10 The fact that 90,000 women participated in the study makes this finding especially significant. The authors explain that folic acid obtained from supplements had a stronger protective effect against colon cancer than folic acid obtained from dietary sources. Despite the findings from this prestigious study, the FDA does not allow folic acid to be promoted for the prevention of colon cancer.

While folic acid is contained in multivitamin products, the average American does not take many of the other probable cancer-preventing nutrients. These include indole-3-carbinol,11-25 selenium,26-31 chlorophyllin,32-41 curcumin,42-66 lycopene,67-74 lutein,75-84 green tea,85-105 gamma tocopherol,106-111 and a host of other plant extracts.

According to a report published by the National Cancer Institute on June 17, 2004, environmental factors contribute to 80-90% of all cancers. When using the word “environmental,” the Institute included both lifestyle factors such as diet and tobacco and alcohol use, as well as radiation, infectious agents, and substances in the air, water, and soil. The objective of this report was to show that the majority of cancers are preventable.112-113

In this instance, one government agency (the National Cancer Institute) states that 80-90% of all cancers are preventable and changes should be made to reduce cancer risk, while another government agency—the FDA—takes deliberate actions to suppress information about ways to prevent cancer.114

Why You Need the Life Extension Foundation
I discussed with several gastroenterologists the JAMA study indicating that performing colonoscopies more frequently might be desirable. To my surprise, not one of them knew about the study, despite its publication in a journal to which they all subscribe.

This kind of physician apathy is rampant in today’s health care system. Doctors often fail to read their own medical journals, neglect to implement new findings reported in the journals they do read, and fail to recommend any program (such as eating more fruits and vegetables) that would help prevent the very diseases for which patients are coming to them for screening.

Physicians are failing to incorporate the findings of published, peer-reviewed studies in their everyday medical practices. This means that patients are not gaining access to the latest information about better ways to prevent and treat disease.

The Life Extension Foundation, on the other hand, reviews thousands of published studies each month to identify practical approaches people can take today to improve their health and reduce their risk of degenerative disease. We try to leave no stone unturned in our quest to provide members with scientific findings that can save their lives.

If you are relying solely on your doctors to keep you alive, you are probably missing critical information and innovative technologies that can improve your health. For many aging people, the result is a slow deterioration of their health right in front of their doctors’ eyes. While this mental and physical decline used to be considered an inevitable consequence of aging, people are increasingly rebelling against the dogma that says nothing can be done to impede age-related disease.

As a member of the Life Extension Foundation, you gain access to cutting-edge technologies that are many years ahead of both conventional and alternative medicine. By reading this column, you just learned that virtual colonoscopies are only about 50% as effective as flexible tube colonoscopies in detecting colon lesions. This kind of information is priceless, and you receive over 100 pages worth of it every month in Life Extension magazine.

The Life Extension Foundation is breaking down the barriers of ignorance that deprive aging humans of their good health. Readers of Life Extension magazine are often the first to learn about validated methods of detecting and warding off degenerative disease.

For longer life,
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William Faloon

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