Since When Did Colonoscopies Prevent Cancer?

Jan 14, 2009 by

Since When Did Colonoscopies Prevent Cancer?

I have been seeing some stories lately about how colonoscopy is only effective for detecting cancer in the left side of the colon (i.e. the descending colon), and not the right side of it (i.e. the ascending colon).

What really alarms me is how I have seen several headlines which go ‘colonoscopies only prevents X% of colon cancer’, or something along those lines.

Question – since when, ever, did colonoscopies PREVENT colon cancer?

Food, nutrition, exercise, not smoking, lifestyle habits, stress management, etc – these protect against and prevent cancer. Saying that colonoscopies (or mammograms, or X-rays, or other potentially harmful diagnostic procedures) prevent cancer, is almost equivalent to saying that autopsies prevent dead people.

And these headlines may be coming from some reputed sources. A more accurate heading would be something along the lines of ‘colonoscopies only DETECT X% of colon cancer’.

This, in my mind, is another example of the subtle but powerful indoctrination which simple words can have on our psyche. Imagine the number of people who truly believe that the way to ward off colon cancer is not to stop smoking, to stop drinking alcohol, to stop eating junk food, to stop eating meat, to stop consuming trans fats, to eat more fruits and vegetables, to exercise more, or to get enough rest, but instead, it’s to go get more colonoscopies.

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