I think it is safe to say that most of us have heard the term colon polyp at some point in our lives. However, many people do not know exactly what a colon polyp is and why it is important to us.
Simply put, a colon polyp is a small group of cells that forms on the lining of the colon. The majority of colon polyps are harmless and pose no significant danger to the individual, but in some cases colon polyps can develop into colon cancer.
Although anyone can develop colon polyps, people over the age of 50 are at a much higher risk. Other risk factors such as being overweight, a smoker or having a family history of colon polyps may also increase your risk.
Some individuals have reported symptoms such as abdominal pain, blood in their stool, prolonged changes in bowel habits and anemia associated with colon polyps.
However, often colon polyps do not cause any noticeable symptoms.
Therefore, it is important to have regular check-ups, which may include screening tests such as a colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy to find polyps in the early stages of development.
If polyps are discovered during a screening test, your doctor will likely remove as many of them as safely possible.
If for some reason your doctor is unable to remove the polyps, he or she will take a tissue sample or a biopsy for later analysis. It is important to note that very large polyps may require surgery to be removed.
The good news is that there are several lifestyle modifications that can greatly reduce your chances of developing a colon polyp. First of all, eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of colon polyps.
To add to this, reducing your fat intake, alcohol consumption and tobacco usage is also important. Finally, staying physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight will also significantly reduce your risk.
Studies have shown that certain professions such as truck driving put people at higher risk of developing colon polyps. Physical inactivity, poor diet and tobacco use have been identified as the major risk factors for this problem. Until next time, drive safely.
Dr. Christopher H. Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at the 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024.