by Alex Bernier,
Do we know our shit?
Last year, after successfully reversing a recurrent bacterial infection with the stool of her healthy teenage daughter - who also happened to be overweight - a 32-year old woman gained an astonishing 41 pounds in three months. The story was published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
You read right, a routine fecal transplant, which is a promising approach to treating a common cause of potentially life-threatening diarrhea known as C.Difficile, has lead to obesity.
In the blink of an eye, despite a medically supervised dietary intervention and exercise program, the woman, who was experiencing weight problems for the first time in her life, transcended into the medical standards of obesity.
Strange, in only three months, she managed to achieve a medical condition that usually takes several years to develop. Conventional medical knowledge taught me poor nutrition was driving the obesity epidemic, not feces.
The American and Canadian Medical Associations have both recognized obesity to be a chronic disease in 2013 and 2015 respectively. This fecal transplant gone wrong could suggest it to be an infectious disease instead.
Apparently, we do not know our shit as much as we believed.
The Latest Buzz on Colonoscopies
Speaking of feces, this could shed some light on the alarming colorectal cancer epidemic killing 25 Canadians every day according to the Canadian Cancer Society. It is the second leading cancer-related death for men, and third for women.
The colon, or large intestine, is an integral component of the complicated digestive universe where your body's waste content gets stored as feces before leaving your body through defecation.
Sometimes, small clumps of cells will form on the lining of your colon. Although they are usually harmless, these polyps can develop into cancer over time.
The epidemic has been growing in a roller coaster fashion since the mid-eighties. As a result, organized screening programs have been established to catch the early stages of clump development, before they reach critical and often fatal stages. Better safe than sorry right?
In 2001, a task force of experts and methodologists set out to establish colon cancer screening guidelines based on the available scientific data. The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care presented recommendations for procedures including fecal blood testing, and the dreaded flexible sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies, advocated for anyone over 50 years - the age group believed to present the highest risk- even if they are not experiencing symptoms associated with the disease.
Despite a rise in screenings across the nation, too many continue to lose their lives on a daily basis.
Significant changes in technology and practice since 2001 have called for updated general recommendations based on the latest available evidence, which the task force published on February 22nd, 2016 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Medical science is evolving faster than ever, only 15 years ago, anyone over 50 years old was strongly advised to screen for colorectal cancer through fecal blood testing every year or two, flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, and well, inconclusive evidence concerning colonoscopies.
Interesting, considering 434,693 Canadians underwent colonoscopies from 2004 to 2009.
Today, a strong recommendation for colorectal cancer screening only applies to the 60-74 yrs age group. Fecal blood testing are recommended every two years, flexible sigmoidoscopies every ten years – double the time established in 2001. And more importantly, colonoscopies are NOT recommended by the panel of experts and methodologists.
The modification is significant for anyone who has had a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. Why aren't they recommended anymore?
As it turns out, colonoscopies are not only highly invasive; they can do some serious harm by potentially perforating your colon, disturb bacterial harmony within your gut due to the harsh laxatives used to flush out your intestinal tract, and finding false positives – an error in assessment where a disease is mistaken to be present.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation estimates 30-40% men treated for prostate cancer have harmless tumors that would never have caused problems in their lifetime.
The implications are particularly alarming for anyone in the United $tates wrongfully diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Hey, remember lobotomies? The guy who thought it was a good idea to perforate the brain with an ice-pick as a treatment for mental illness won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1949 for his medical breakthrough.
But I digress...
The next time your physician suggests shoving a flexible tube up your ass to screen for colorectal cancer, consider the latest recommendations from the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.