The TV host’s doctor found a pre-cancerous polyp on his first scan
It’s a dreaded process for most people, but Oz said that his first, when he was 50 years old, “saved my life.”
“I’m a pretty healthy guy. My family has no history of colon disease. At age 50, I went in for my colonoscopy not because I wanted to, not because my doctor wanted to, because I was getting brow-beaten by a lot of people. And I finally got it done, and I found a pre-cancerous polyp,” he said on the Today show on Wednesday. “I was completely stunned.”
Oz, now 58, said that the potentially life-saving benefits of colonoscopies outweigh the unpleasant prep.
“It is the best cancer screening tool of them all because you can not only find the problem, you can cure the problem,” he said. “When you get a mammography and find something in your breast you just started the process — with colonoscopy you’re finished! The GI specialist goes in there, finds the polyp, clips the polyp and removes it.”
The Today hosts and Oz also talked about the increased rates of people ages 20 to 39 who are getting colon cancer. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, that rate has gone up 2.4 percent each year since 1980.
Researchers aren’t sure of the cause — Oz speculates that microbiomes that enter the body from the skin, lungs and stomach are likely the “major component, because our DNA wouldn’t change that quickly.” But he said that we don’t need to lower the age to start yearly colonoscopies — which recently went down from 50 to 45 — again. Rather, Oz said that younger people should watch for the symptoms of colon cancer, like changes in bowel movement habits, blood in stools and persistent cramps.
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“I think for younger people the rule take away has to be identifying your symptoms,” he said. “If you identify your symptoms early on you’ll catch it. Young people still don’t get colon [cancer] that often, so screening everybody doesn’t make sense. But starting at 45, everyone needs to get screened.”
Oz also urges a diet that promotes good colon health, like leafy greens, rye bread and surprisingly (and to Carson Daly’s delight), gouda cheese. On the other end, he said to limit processed meats and avoid high alcohol consumption.