Daniel writes on any subject based on his actual experiences and those of others as well as topics founded on facts established by research.
Preventing Colon Polyps Growth Without Watching Your Diet
Physicians will tell you there is NOT one best way to control and eliminate the formation of polyps in the colon. There are several things you can do to prevent the growth of colon polyps and these are broken down to two general categories: healthy diet and exercise.
I do know there is one item in my life that has proven to be my mighty weapon against the growth of colon polyps without needing to observe the discipline of having to watch my food intake. A daily dose of psyllium fiber.
Before I go into telling my story about my personal experience with psyllium fiber, let me first present some background information for your reference
The large intestine that surrounds the small intestine is what is referred to as the colon. This is the last part of the digestive tract and the last route travelled by digested food before exiting the human body. This is also the part of the digestive system that is most prone to cancer or what is called colorectal cancer.
Almost all colon and rectal cancers start from growths called “polyps”. I will not go into a detailed description of what the colon does and how polyps are formed as this information can be found all over the internet. What I will tell you is my own story of how I have not only eliminated polyps from my colon but also maintained my colon virtually “polyps free” ever since without the need for following a strict healthy diet.
There are various medical procedures to determine the health of the colon and to detect if there are tumors and polyps that can develop into cancerous tissue. Perhaps the best method is via a colonoscopy.
This is a medical procedure whereby a long, flexible tube with a CCD camera or fiber optic camera at its tip is passed thru the anus, past the rectum, and well into the large intestine or colon. The images captured by the CCD camera is projected onto a TV monitor and at the same time photograph digitally for medical records.
A colonoscopy is the very first thing everybody should undergo for the early detection of colon cancer. It is recommended that all persons, both male and female, should submit to a colonoscopy procedure at the age of 50 or thereabouts.
Men are more prone to colorectal cancer than women, although physicians recommend that both genders should undergo the procedure at around the same age.
If you belong to a family who has a history of colon cancer, you must have your first colonoscopy even earlier than 50 years old, preferably around the age of 40. While the incidence of colon cancer among adults age 50 and above have been decreasing in recent years, it is becoming more prevalent for the younger generation below age 40. This is due primarily because of the poor eating habits of this generation.
What Causes Colon Cancer?
Most colorectal cancers are due to old age and lifestyle factors with only a small number of cases due to underlying genetic disorders. Some risk factors include diet, obesity, smoking, and lack of physical activity. Dietary factors that increase the risk include red and processed meat as well as alcohol. Another risk factor is inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Some of the inherited genetic disorders that can cause colorectal cancer include familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer; however, these represent less than 5% of cases. It typically starts as a benign tumor, often in the form of a polyp which over time becomes cancerous. - World Cancer Report 2014. World Health Organization. 2014. pp. Chapter 5.5.
It is not exactly known what specifically causes colon cancer. There is not one particular element or circumstance that can be pinpointed by medical experts as the root cause leading to colorectal cancer.
It is widely accepted that colon cancer is caused by a combination of several factors, and it is the general consensus that one of the major issues other than old age is an unhealthy diet. About 35 percent of cases are due to bad eating habits, followed by 30% use of tobacco, the balance being a combination of old age, lack of appropriate exercise, and other environmental factors (such as pollution).
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Looking at those percentages tells us that 65 percent of the causes of colon cancer is preventable while only 35 percent is due to factors beyond our control (old age, environmental issues). Together with a proper regimen of physical activity, this 65 percent of controllable causes rises to as much as 75-80 percent. Yet, why is there such a high percentage of colon cancer cases?
Bad eating habits is the primary cause followed by lack of physical exercise. I did not mention tobacco usage as the second because as more and more people are shunning the use of tobacco, this factor is getting to be less of a cancer causing component. Non-smokers are obviously already ahead of the game in this respect.
Unfortunately, the modern human being is subjected to so much exposure to bad food in our daily lives that it becomes an effort to stick to maintaining a healthy diet.
What Is a Healthy Diet?
Eating food high in fiber content is the number one cancer preventive. It is very important to be aware of a proper diet consisting of fruits and vegetables and other foods such as lean proteins, whole grains, beans, green peas, avocados, figs, apples, brown rice and broccoli, just to mention a few. These foods not only contain high proportions of fiber but also contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds.
More about the benefits of fiber later as this is the main issue in this article.
Avoid processed foods especially processed meats. This is where our difficulty arises. In our busy daily lives we tend to acquire the bad habit of eating on-the-run. This means eating foods that are easy to find, prepare and consume, ergo, prepared foods that we can easily pick up from the supermarket’s frozen section.
Together with a healthy diet, regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer. It goes without saying that maintaining a healthy weight is also a big positive in this direction
Colon Polyps, the Nemesis of the Colon
What are colon polyps?
These are growths that look like button mushrooms growing from the inner lining of the colon. Although most polyps are non-cancerous, most colon and rectal cancers start and grow from polyps.
So if polyps are the birth places of colon cancers, then it stands to reason that controlling them prevents the creation of malignant tumors leading to cancer. What is the best way to control polyps?
With natural fibers found in vegetables and fruits mentioned in the previous section.
Psyllium seed husk, flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are the most common fibers found in vegetables. In this group, probably the most abundant and easy to convert into a consumable commercial product is psyllium seed husk. It is quite likely also the best of all fibers since it seems to be the most popular fiber available in the commercial market.
Psyllium Fiber, a Mighty Weapon Against Colon Polyps
As my personal experience will show, the role of psyllium fiber as a dietary supplement in my daily life has proven effective in combatting the growth of colon polyps. My wife and I are among the many people who have a bad dietary habit of not eating enough veggies and fruits. In addition, my wife hates the kitchen and due to this we seldom cook food relying frequently on processed packaged foods.
Consuming little veggies plus eating processed foods seems to be the perfect combination to put us in the category of being most susceptible to colon cancer.
Let me say that I am now in my very senior years and as of my last colonoscopy in 2015 it does not appear that I am in danger of falling victim to colon cancer.
How did I manage to stay this way? I have little doubt in my mind that I owe it all to my regimen of regularly taking a good daily dose of psyllium fiber. My wife who is much younger than me has not had a colonoscopy yet but I am sure she is most likely in the same situation as me. We both consume a large daily dose of psyllium fiber.
Close Up of Psyllium Fiber Husk
Psyllium is a dietary fiber that is mainly used as a laxative in the treatment of constipation and mild diarrhea. It is extracted from the seeds of Plantago ovata, grown extensively in India and is usually sold in the form of husk, granules, capsules or powder. It is the fiber ingredient commonly found in most dietary supplements for the healthy maintenance of the colon.
My Story, My Experience, My First Colonoscopy
In 1999, I was at that age when, at the insistence of my family physician, I agreed to have my first colonoscopy procedure.
As I lay down on the operating table, ready for the procedure, the doctor ask me if I wanted to be awake and watch on a TV monitor how the colonoscope weaves its way into my colon. I asked him if it would be painful. He said there is hardly any pain, but more than pain, it is the discomfort that I had to put up with. I am a very curious person, and I certainly would not pass up an opportunity to be able to look at the insides of the colon even if I have to suffer some discomfort for the privilege.
So there I was, laying on one side of my body and watching the procedure on a closed circuit television monitor. The colonoscope, or endoscope as it is also called, is a long, flexible tube about a centimeter in diameter. This is less than the diameter of an average stool. The colonoscope has a movable tip with multiple instrumentations for air, suction, light and a camera.
As the colonoscope snaked its way up my colon, I watched in horror at seeing several tiny growths on the inner linings of my colon. Very much concerned, I ask the doctor if those were cancer growths. He said, “Don’t be alarmed, those are colon polyps that are not normally cancerous. I will clip some of them and send them for biopsy for further examination if any are cancerous.”
I then asked: “Do all people have these polyps growing in their colons?”
He responded: “No, not all the time. Some have a few of them like in your case, some don’t have any. It depends on the person’s life style and eating habits. Most people with colon polyps never develop cancer if the biopsy analysis shows the polyps to be benign tumors. You will get a report in a weeks’ time if there is anything to worry about.”
Surely enough a week after the colonoscopy procedure the doctor’s office called me to say that everything was normal and there was no need for any treatment or further investigation.
I was advised though that it was important to have another colonoscopy in five years to see if there has been further deterioration in the condition of the polyps. In the ensuing years I forgot all about that experience and I continued to lead a perfectly normal life.
Some years later, I believe it was in 2004, at a dinner party on a visit to my in-laws in Alaska someone brought up the subject of being constantly constipated and was asking if anyone had similar problems. It so happened my wife and I were at that time having similar difficulties (obviously due to our bad eating habits) and so we were very much interested in the discussion.
My sister-in-law, who had experienced the same condition, said she fixed the problem by taking a daily dose of a dietary supplement, colon cleanse. The brand she used contained a fairly good percentage of psyllium fiber.
According to her, not only does psyllium fiber do a very good job of maintaining regularity but it is also a good therapy for maintaining a healthy colon. She even suggested the product brand that was doing her a lot of good. It was Health/Plus Super Colon Cleanse.
As soon as we returned home, my wife and I immediately started on the psyllium fiber regimen using the same brand recommended by sis-in-law. It did wonders in solving our constipation problem. We kept this regimen using the same brand until 2010 when we had to change brands because we changed health insurers and the current one does not carry the Health/Plus brand in their pharmacy. We now take 21st Century Psyllium Fiber which we find as good as Health/Plus Colon Cleanse.
Little did we know that at the same time psyllium fiber was getting on with its work of solving our constipation problems it was also doing a good job of keeping our colons healthy. I found this out in 2015, when I went for my second colonoscopy, sixteen years after my first.
My Second Colonoscopy
Here I am, in 2015, undergoing my second colonoscopy. Unlike my first experience, I was not offered the option of watching the procedure on a closed circuit television screen. I went under anesthesia and was asleep during the entire time. I was told that I would be informed about the results in a week or two.
For the next two weeks, I had not heard anything from the doctor’s office on the results of the colonoscopy. When I called to find out, I was told that my colon was “as clean as a whistle” and nothing more needed to be done.
Not satisfied with this, I asked to see pictures of my colon that was taken from the colonoscopy. True enough, the pictures didn’t show a single polyp which really surprised me.
Shown below are before and after pictures of my colon in the span of sixteen years between the two colonoscopies. My eating habits had not changed during this entire time.
The only thing different in my diet was the addition of psyllium fiber present in the colon cleanse dietary supplement that I was taking daily.
Psyllium Fiber as Preventive for Heart Disease
This article would not be complete if I didn't mention one other benefit that psyllium fiber offers. As an effective part of a diet, it is also a recommended therapy for mild to moderately high levels of cholesterol. Consequently, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the claim that dietary psyllium as a soluble fiber would reduce the risk of heart disease. Clinical tests have proven that a daily dose of seven grams or more of psyllium seed husk would sufficiently lower total cholesterol and reduce the risk for coronary heart disease.
Eating foods high in fiber content, avoiding processed foods, avoiding tobacco and alcohol and getting on an exercise program are the best ways to prevent the formation of colon polyps. However, If you are one of those who has difficulty in adhering to this recommended healthy regimen then the next best bet is to supplement your daily food intake with a good dosage of psyllium fiber. My sixteen year experience with psyllium fiber, despite my bad eating habits, is a testament that it is the best method to guard against the growth of colon polyps.
Psyllium Fiber Supplements
America Cancer Society – What is Colorectal Cancer?
Mayo Clinic – What is Colon Cancer?
U.S. National Library of Medicine – Causes of Colon Cancer
VCE Publications (Virginia State University) – The Diet and Cancer Connection
healthywomen.org – Colon Cancer: Medical Review by Patricia Raymond, MD
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: I’m due to have my colonoscopy in another year as I turn 50. Should I start taking your recommended psyllium fibers now?
Answer: I don’t know how long it takes for psyllium fiber to work in removing polyps from the colon. If you suspect you may have polyps in your colon now because you have not been consuming enough fibers in your food intake, then it is never too late to start taking psyllium fiber now at a maximum dosage. In my case, it took several years between my first and second colonoscopies. In between those two periods I was taking psyllium fiber about ten years before my second colonoscopy. So obviously, the ten year period was a good amount of time that psyllium fiber worked on removing the polyps from my colon. In your case, assuming you do have polyps, one year may not be sufficient time for psyllium fiber to work its magic on your colon. But it is never too late to get started on it and continue with it even after the colonoscopy procedure. If your colon shows negative for polyps, it is still good to be on the psyllium regimen to prevent the growth of them as you grow older.
Question: In your article, you mentioned two brands of psyllium fiber that you used effectively to curtail the growth of polyps. Which of the two brands would you recommend best?
Answer: It is difficult to be specific as to which brand is better. Actually, any brand is most likely as good as the two I've used and continue to use. Just make sure that any brand you choose contains a liberal amount of psyllium fiber as one of its ingredients.
© 2018 Daniel Mollat
Daniel Mollat (author) from Nevada on July 10, 2018:
Thanks for your comment Natalie. Your mother's case testifies to the need for more than just eating right and exercising to combat colon cancer. Perhaps, and this is just speculation based on my own experience, she could have avoided cancer if she did the psyllium fiber regimen.
Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on July 09, 2018:
An extremely important topic. My mother had colon cancer - she ate as healthy as possible and had for decades, kept active and didn't engage in any other risk behaviors. She had no symptoms and it was found as a really lucky fluke - it was already Stage II and had broken through the colon wall. Great article.