Thursday, December 17, 2009
Colon Polyps - Colon Health, part 3
Colon polyps are, a most people know, small growths in the lining inside the large intestine. They've gained a lot of attention the last decade or so, due to their relation to colon cancer.
So exactly what is a polyp? As mentioned above, it's a small growth of tissue that can be smooth/flat, saw tooth, or even look like cauliflower. The most common types are hyperplastic (saw tooth) or adenomas (cauliflower looking). The third kind is referred to as polyosis syndrome (osis meaning condition of), or having certain other hereditory conditions that cause raised or flat polyps to occur, and/or become cancerous.
Any type of polyp can become cancerous, especially if the diet is high in certain types of fat (the so called bad fats) and low in fiber. Dehydration, alcoholism, eating disorders, prolonged bouts of constipation or diarrhea, diverticulitis, Chron's, or Celiac's also stress and/or interfer with the colon's ability to function properly. Chronic stress and inflammation are influences as well.
Currently age is considered the biggest factor regarding why polyps become cancerous, mainly due to dietary and life style influences. Research has shown that the risk increases after the age of 40, which is why it's recommended for middle aged adults and seniors to have regular colonoscopies.
Inherited factors do increase the liklihood of a polyp becoming cancerous, especially if you have a "first family member" (immediate relative like parents, siblings, aunt/uncle, etc.) that has had colon cancer. Race/nationality isn't really considered important, however African Americans are slightly more at risk than other groups.
Certain medications can both increase or slow the growth of polyps. (Check with your doctor or go online to find these). Research does indicate aspirin can slow the process of a pre-cancerous polyp from turning into cancer; however, it's not a recommended therapy/treatment, due to the side effects.
Unfortunately any signs or symptoms of having colon polyps usually are so insignificant that most people don't realize they have them until it's too late. Abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, narrowing of stool, bowel obstructions, etc., can be attributed to many other things, and doesn't always mean a polyp has become cancerous.
However, if any of these signs or symptoms occur for over a week, or there is blood in the stool, anemia, or unusual abdominal pain, it's highly recommended to be examined. When the colonoscopy (light tube used to examine the inside of the colon) is performed, polyps can not only be looked at, they can also be removed. This can prove to not only be an overall healthy preventative measure, it can also save lives.
Self help things are, of course, being hydrated and eating a well balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber and cruciferous vegetables. (These are cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, etc. They support the immune system, and are natural anti-inflammatories.) Other natural immune boosters and anti- inflammatories are supplements like vitamins C and E, and bioflavinoids like Quercetin or Pycnogenol. Decompressing frequently also helps, as stress increases inflammation even in polyps.
Colon cancer is preventable, and very treatable. Proper medical check ups, a healthy balanced diet, and polyp removal are all very viable ways to protect our colon, and overal health and well being.
Sources: www.wikipedia.org, www.mayoclinic.com, www.emedicine.com, www.emedicine.medscape.com, www.gihealth.com and www.uptodate.com
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