A new study is making many of us question whether we should continue to get our dreaded colonoscopies. For years, this unpleasant prep-and-procedure has been considered the gold standard in reducing colon cancer risk. But according to reports about this new research, having regular colonoscopies lowers your risk for colon cancer by only 18% and does not reduce your risk for death from this cancer by any significant amount.

But: Be careful what you take away from this study, says ­gastroenterologist Robert ­Bresalier, MD, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who was not involved with the study. When you look a bit deeper, you will find that only 42% of the participants invited to get a colonoscopy ­actually did. And of those who did, their risk for colon cancer was reduced by 31% and their risk of dying from colon cancer was reduced by 50%.

I hate getting a colonoscopy as much as any of you do—actually, not the procedure itself since I sleep through that part, but the prep the night before, fasting, drinking bottles of unpleasant-tasting liquid and spending hours in the bathroom to clear out my colon.

So, like many of you, I would love a valid reason to never have another one. But regardless of the numbers, I am still planning to get my next colonoscopy…and the one after that…and so on. Why? Because any reduction in risk is worth the few hours of discomfort.

I urge you to think carefully. Don’t make an important decision about your health based on a few sensationalized headlines. Instead, examine the research…discuss it with your trusted doctor…and make an informed decision.


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