Dr. Micozzi’s “Classified Cancer Answers”

Doc Gumshoe looks at Micozzi's "Cancel your colonoscopy forever" teaser pitch

[ed note: Michael Jorrin is not a doctor but we like to call him “Doc Gumshoe,” he writes non-investment pieces for us about medical hype and health issues from time to time — today he indulged me by taking on a pitch from a health newsletter that caught my eye]

The promotional piece – endless and repetitive as these all seem to be – starts out with the banner headline:

“I WANT TO CANCEL YOUR COLONOSCOPY FOREVER!”

Doesn’t sound a bit bad, does it? No more nasty prep, no more risks related to anaesthesia or, perish the thought, an accidental perforation of the colon. So even for those of us who are constitutionally skeptical, the temptation to continue reading, and listening, is irresistible.

The hype presents our hero, Dr Marc Micozzi, who has a veritable encyclopedia of cancer cures, “guaranteed” to be effective. As usual, these cures are being suppressed by the all-powerful conspiracy, which in this case involves the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all of which are in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry and the medical establishment.

In order to get Dr Micozzi’s free book of cancer answers, you have to subscribe to a newsletter which costs $78 for 12 issues. You can cancel at any time, of course, and you can keep Dr Micozzi’s free book. I did not subscribe to his newsletter, but a bit of poking about got me a copy of his “Classified Cancer Answers,” which I’ll give you a look at in this piece.

But first, let’s think about this notion of “canceling your colonoscopy forever.” Is that really a good idea?

Doc Gumshoe’s reaction is a loud NO!

Critics of colonoscopy point to three main categories of objections. First, that the procedure involves risks; second, that there is no definitive hard evidence that undergoing a colonoscopy reduces your chances of having colon cancer; and third, that there are alternative procedures to screen for colon cancer.

Okay. The risks, such as they are, are really small. There are certainly risks involving anaesthesia, but these are almost always effectively managed during the procedure itself. The scary risk, perforation of the bowel, is rare – a 2009 study put the risk of perforation at about 8 in 10,000 procedures, and the risk of death at 6 in 100,000.

Regarding the lack of hard evidence, what that basically means is that there has been no controlled clinical study that compared sufficiently long-term outcomes in patients who have had colonoscopies with those who have not had colonoscopies. But the clinical evidence is exceedingly strong nonetheless. Colon cancers develop from polyps; if the polyps are removed – as they are in a colonoscopy – the cancers do not occur. And the statistical evidence is strong as well – colon cancer rates have been dropping by about 3% per year, just as colonoscopy rates have been increasing. I know, that’s post hoc propter hoc, but why else?

So what about these alternative procedures? One is a simple test for occult fecal blood (that’s the one Dr Micozzi’s promotional piece hypes as the one “you can do yourself at home”). Yes, if there’s blood in the feces, it might come from a polyp that has become cancerous. Or it might come from hemorrhoids. But if there’s blood in the feces, the next step is a colonoscopy, because you have to find out where it comes from. Another alternative is a sigmoidoscopy, which only checks the descending colon – the scope doesn’t have to make that tricky turn into the transverse colon, and the patient doesn’t require more than mild sedation. But because of this, sigmoidoscopy misses a third to a half of potentially pre-cancerous polyps. Finally there are “virtual” colonoscopies – external imaging of the colon. However, if these procedures find polyps, the next step is a real colonoscopy, so we’re right back where we started from.

From Doc Gumshoe’s perspective, the only good reason to cancel your colonoscopy forever is if you have it on good authority that you’re due to be struck by lightning the next time the sky clouds over.

A bit more about our hero, Dr Marc Micozzi

Here’s what I gleaned from Wikipedia:

Micozzi served as a researcher and physician for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Walter Reed Medical Center; and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. He also is an adjunct professor for the Department of Pharmacology at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Micozzi was the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Research on Paradigm, Practice and Policy, CAM’s first scholarly journal. He also organized and edited the first US textbook in his field, Fundamentals of Complementary & Alternative Medicine, which was published in 1996. The fourth edition of the textbook was published in 2011.

And here’s what Wikipedia itself says about the entry about Micozzi:

This biographical article is written like a résumé. Please help improve it by revising it to be neutral and encyclopedic. (December 2013)

This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. Please help improve it by replacing them with more appropriate citations to reliable, independent, third-party sources. (December 2013)

And here’s how “Classified Cancer Answers” starts out:

“The proven cancer revelation— pushed aside for profits!

“In 1984, a staff scientist for the NCI and colleague of mine was on the verge of a medical epiphany. She had gathered a towering pile of PROVEN research regarding a downright ordinary substance: Vitamin C.

“She was a part of the ‘crash program’ to uncover as much as we could on the relationship between diet, nutrients, and cancer. And had taken it upon herself to gather and review a decade’s worth of small, but very
sound studies on vitamin C. And what she found was staggering.

“In fact, this tireless researcher reviewed over 46 separate epidemiological studies. She found that 33 of them revealed vitamin C offered significant protection against cancer…particularly for esophageal, pancreatic, stomach, lung, and breast cancers.

“Thirty-three out of 46.

“That’s a 71% rate of positive results! “

But, Micozzi goes on to say, the NCI and the NIH didn’t pay any attention to these revolutionary findings:

“When this dedicated researcher finished her work, was she congratulated? Was she asked to present her findings to an expanded panel of her superiors? Was she even listened to?

“No. As she told me, they weren’t interested. Imagine, the NIH, the guardian of this nation’s health and well-being, wasn’t interested in her findings.

“Why would the NIH shelve this once-in-a-lifetime discovery? Why would they pass on this sound research that could change the face of cancer treatment? Did the NIH already have a ‘cancer plan’ and this once-in-a-lifetime discovery just didn’t fall in line?”

What were those positive results? Micozzi does not say. They may have been in vitro results, for example, Vitamin C kills cancer cells in a test-tube. What we know for sure is that they were not results of clinical trials in which Vitamin C was shown either to cure or prevent cancer in human patients.

But according to Micozzi, the NIH had its own reasons for not looking further into Vitamin C. They were hot on the trail of something else, something we probably remember: beta-carotene. And they were unwilling to pay attention to another hot lead that would divert resources from the pursuit of their favorite candidate – despite the fact that Vitamin C was being proclaimed by none other than the eminent Linus Pauling as being a likely cancer treatment.

A small digression about beta-carotene

Yes, in the mid 1980s there was a lot of interest in beta-carotene as an effective cancer preventative. Beta-carotene is an A vitamin, and there was evidence of a correlation between physiologic levels of beta-carotene and some forms of cancer. The evidence certainly justified a closer look, but the closer look failed to show that taking beta-carotene actually prevented cancer.

And are the NCI/NIH susceptible to being short-sighted? Certainly they are. At present, what’s taking up most of the air – and most of the money! – at the Cancer Institute is gene sequencing. They have gotten exceedingly good at this, and in some cases, they have achieved excellent results. They can sequence the genome of a specific cancer in an individual patient, engineer cells from that individual’s immune system to target those specific cancer cells, and in some cases have been able to halt and even reverse the progress of the cancer in that individual patient. There are those who say that this is not an approach to cancer treatment that can work in the general population, and that it is diverting attention and funds from approaches that might be more generally applicable.

Micozzi charges that the NCI perhaps had unsavory reasons for favoring beta-carotene:

“In this particular case — a member of the National Cancer Institute advisory board happened to be a senior science officer at a manufacturer of synthetic beta-carotene. The shameful dots should be easy enough to connect. If the rug were pulled out from under beta-carotene, too much would be lost.”

… but back to Linus Pauling and Vitamin C

“All the while, sealing the fate of a TRUE CANCER ANSWER to sit on the shelf, collect dust, and be kept from you.

“One day I asked another scientist how the NCI could continue to ignore all the evidence about vitamin C. He explained that two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling had given vitamin C a ‘bad name.’ In the government’s eyes, he was too vocal about its benefits. And the NCI couldn’t afford to be seen as ‘kooky’ or ‘fringy.’

“Better to be just plain wrong. Meanwhile, Linus Pauling single-handedly held as many Nobel Prizes as the entire scientific bureaucracy of NIH put together. But the NCI prefers to be ‘often wrong, but never in doubt.'”

Yes, it is true that Linus Pauling had won two Nobel Prizes. But neither one had the least connection with Vitamin C. In 1954 Pauling was awarded the Nobel Prize for his achievement in deciphering protein structures – the particular electronic bonds that weld complex proteins together and determine their shape. And, by the way, it is the shape of proteins (and other molecules) that largely determine their properties – how they fit, in three dimensions, with other molecules. It is a branch of science to which Pauling made immense contributions. He was a bit ahead of the curve, for example, when it came to describing the structure of DNA. He knew it was helix, but he was pretty sure it was a triple helix. Of course, James Watson and Francis Crick came away with the blue ribbon when DNA was found to be a double helix, as they predicted.

As close as Pauling came to medical science was when he identified the single genetic mutation that caused sickle cell anemia. It was later found – but not by Pauling – that the reason that this mutation persisted in large numbers of people in certain parts of the world is that in addition to causing sickle cell anemia, it also confers relative immunity from malaria, so the mutation has a survival benefit.

And, by the way, Pauling’s second Nobel was the Peace Prize, which he won in 1962. Nothing to do with Vitamin C.

But Pauling was convinced that Vitamin C had near-magical disease-fighting properties. This certainty of Pauling’s was based on a pretty well-observed correlation, specifically, that the immune response in humans tends to deplete Vitamin C levels. A conclusion following from this correlation is that when the immune response is invoked – for example, we have an infection – it’s a good idea to supplement our Vitamin C levels and bring them back at least to normal.

So far so good. The next step in the reasoning is something of a leap: if supplementing our Vitamin C levels when we have infections helps us to get rid of the infection, wouldn’t it also be a good idea to increase the Vitamin C level all the time, so that we fight off the infection before it takes hold?

And, by the way, even though almost all animal species synthesize their own Vitamin C, we are among the few that do not. We share that shortcoming with our simian relatives, who, however, get all the Vitamin C they need from their diet.

Pauling began to push Vitamin C as an actual cure for cancer in the 1970s. He was of course very well known indeed by then, and his advocacy for Vitamin C as a cancer cure got a lot of attention. He and a colleague published a couple of papers in the late 1970s in which they claimed that Vitamin C treatment significantly prolonged the lives of terminal patients. These papers were severely criticized at the time on procedural grounds. They compared two patient cohorts – one much more severely ill, which got the placebo, and one much less severely ill, which got Vitamin C – so it was no wonder that the Vitamin C patients lived longer, since they were less severely ill in the first place. Later on, in 1986 , the Mayo Clinic published a big study in the New England Journal of Medicine, comparing Vitamin C with placebo in cancer patients, and found zero benefit. Pauling then engaged in a protracted feud with the Mayo Clinic, accusing them of fraud and deception.

However, in this matter of Vitamin C as a cancer cure, invoking the holy name of Linus Pauling is nothing more than an appeal to authority, and in no way constitutes reliance on evidence. If the great Linus Pauling, who won two Nobel Prizes, says so, it must be so, regardless of the evidence!

Micozzi points to another NCI goof

This particular goof was a sin of omission. There was a period in our history when iron supplements were all the rage. Some of you may have heard of Geritol, which was advertised and promoted over the moon in the post World War II years. Micozzi is correct in pointing out that for most people, iron supplementation is entirely unnecessary, and for some it can actually be harmful.

The NCI failure in this case was that when a researcher – another Nobel Prize winner, Dr Barry Blumberg – wanted to publish data about possible harmful effects of iron supplements, the NCI refused to give him access to the data. Why? Because it would contradict the CDC’s policy of persuading pregnant women and women of child-bearing age to take iron supplements.

So, what cancer-fighting tactics does Micozzi favor?

In general, Micozzi seems to favor three fairly distinct tactics:

  • Strengthening the immune system, which he calls the cornerstone of the natural approach, as opposed “to standard cancer treatments that are actually harmful to the immune system and to other healthy human cells.” Grant him his grain of truth: standard chemotherapy is certainly rough on patients in many ways. But these standard agents do target and kill cancer cells and significantly extend the lives of many patients, whereas so far the evidence for strengthening the immune system as a means of treating established cancer is non-existent.
  • Preventing cancer cells from getting the blood supply they need to grow, or anti-angiogenesis. Micozzi claims that despite the “heroic efforts” of Dr Judah Volkman, who first proposed this mechanism back in 1971, there isn’t as much research done in this area as in antioxidants and immune support. I think there Micozzi is flat-out wrong. Anti-angiogenesis is central to cancer research today. There are 3,246 current studies in cancer angiogenesis, and the success of some drugs, such as those that target vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is based on inhibiting angiogenesis. An example is Avastin (bevacizumab), from Genenetech/Roche.
  • Mobilizing what Micozzi calls “the antioxidant brigade.” Combating free-radicals with antioxidants is a central concern of the entire natural/alternative health movement, based on the belief that the causes of many or even most cancers are free radicals, which cause oxidative stress and give rise to the birth of cancer cells . Micozzi, however, is quite modest in what benefits he actually attributes to antioxidants:

    “Antioxidant supplements can help the body recover from the effects of cancer treatment as well as helping to prevent the recurrence of cancer.”

However, he’s clearly in the natural/alternative camp:

“Natural substances are not toxic to cells but act differently by influencing the correct growth of cells. And, in some cases (particularly with certain Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal combinations), they can even help cancerous cells return to homeostasis—a normal, stable, healthy state.”

As for his claim that “natural substances are not toxic to cells,” Doc Gumshoe’s skeptical eyes narrow. There must be thousands of natural substances that are highly toxic to cells. “Natural” is not synonymous with “benign.” (By the way, for a more comprehensive look at Doc Gumshoe’s views on the matter, check out The Antioxidant Paradox & the Goldilocks Principle from last Summer.)

Micozzi goes on to name just about every supplement you’ve ever heard of. I’ll list them briefly here. However, it’s interesting that, although he usually introduces them with fanfare – “the best cancer treatments you’ve never heard of …” “the Mother’s Day cancer-crusher” – the actual claims he makes are quite modest, and he prefaces these claims with the following statement:

“Since such ingredients are all ‘natural products,’ many of them are widely available on the open market. However, additional research is needed to establish the correct doses and combinations of these ingredients to have the most beneficial effects. In addition, different formulations of these ingredients on the open market vary widely in their potency and quality.”

Dr Micozzi’s list& some benefits he claims (in his own words)

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC): “It can help you overcome fatigue and improves the function of the brain and nervous system. This can be very helpful for those recovering from cancer.”
  • Alpha Lipoid Acid (ALA): “has been shown to have anticancer effects by activating glutathione peroxidase (another potent antioxidant in the body) and decreasing oxidative stress in cancer patients. One recent study found that ALA could initiate cell death in lung cancer cells.”
  • Co-enzyme Q10: “In the laboratory, coenzyme Q10 has been shown to prevent cancer and reduce cancer cell growth. It can also improve white blood cell and immune system function.”
  • Vitamin C: “Thanks to the complete misdirection of the NIH, the research on all the potential mechanisms of action of vitamin C is still lacking…. A protective effect of ascorbic acid in colorectal cancer could exist by its prevention of fecal nitrosamines or against other fecal mutagens. In addition, a mechanism has been proposed whereby vitamin C inhibits DNA synthesis and spread of preneoplastic cells.”
  • Lentinen and other mushroom extracts: “Mushrooms, such as shiitake, used for cancer in traditional Asian medicine, appear to contain a substance called polysaccharides. These polysaccharides appear to activate the immune system NK cells. In addition, some mushroom extracts have been shown in the laboratory to directly kill cancer cells, but leave normal cells alone.”
  • Resveratrol: “In laboratory studies, it has shown anti-cancer effects by inhibiting the growth of over 12 different types of cancer cells, including prostate, breast, colon, pancreas, and ovarian carcinomas.”
    Genistein: “In one study, genistein was found to inhibit blood vessel formation in melanoma cells both in vivo and in vitro.”
  • Piperine (Piper nigrum), the active compound in black pepper: “Research has shown it can boost the bioavailability of the cancer-fighter curcumin substantially. This is important, since curcumin is not easily absorbed by the body.”
  • Curcumin (Curcuma longa): “ In a review of over 728 curcumin analogs which covers the literature from 1815 to mid-2009, researchers showed that curcumin interfered with multiple cell signal pathways including the spread of cancer cells, angiogenesis, and inflammation.”
  • Garlic (Allium sativa): “Unlike many other herbs, garlic, is also a biologically active food with presumed medicinal properties, including possible anti-cancer effects.”
  • Sutherlandia frutescents (Cancer Bush): “Cancer bush contains a substance called L-canavanine. This potent compound has been shown to stop pancreatic cancer cells in their tracks. But beyond the technical aspects of this wonder-find, there lies a mysterious aspect that could make it the “back from the brink” cancer weapon patients have been praying for. And that’s the ability of the cancer bush to halt the deadly “wasting” process that so many terminally ill patients experience.”
  • Chrysanthemum: “Chrysanthemum morifloriam flowers have demonstrated various anti-cancer effects specifically against prostate cancer, together with reishi mushroom (Ganoderma), licorice root (Glycyrrihi zaglabra), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and the adaptogen Sanchi Ginseng (Panax pseudoginseng). Chrysanthemum is included in a formulation called PC-CARE. Treatment with PC-CARE or similar formulations should be individually monitored and sought from a qualified and knowledgeable traditional Chinese medical practitioner. Such practitioners may be found in Chinatowns in major urban areas and even some modern university hospital settings in the U.S.”

So what’s Doc Gumshoe’s take on all this?

Dr Micozzi is not a nut and also not a total fraud. Nowhere in his gospel does he assert that there is real evidence that any of the “natural” remedies he’s describing actually cures or prevents cancer in human patients. There are in vitro (in the laboratory) and in vivo (in animals) suggestions of effects against cancerous cells. The remedies could have various effects; possible anti-cancer effects are noted; a substance appears to activate the NK cell system. And so forth. At the same time, Dr Micozzi boosts Chinese and Ayurvedic healing, and goes so far as to suggest that patients in the US seek out Chinese practitioners. What gives?

Dr Micozzi is angry and frustrated. He has had it up to the eyeballs with the bureaucracy and politics at the big Federal health agencies. He is disappointed with the slow and painful progress of cancer research, and he has bought into the alternative sloganeering that current cancer treatment consists of “cut, poison, and burn,” which is how the alternative segment maligns surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Does he have a point? Certainly. Is it possible that some of the remedies he proposes may have genuine benefit? Also, certainly. But evidence that any of his “cancer answers” can replace current standard treatment forms is entirely lacking. And, in the meantime, current cancer treatment is at least holding its own in the face of a rapidly increasing population at risk. What I mean by that is that the total number of cancer deaths is diminishing slightly, but more people are at risk for cancer simply because the death rate from heart disease has declined so sharply, and we all die of something. So seen in that light, current cancer treatment is a relative success.

But what has happened with Dr Micozzi is that he has been taken over by a marketing machine that packages his mostly moderate support for alternative and non-Western healing practices in a wrapper of over-the-top hype. Some people will likely be taken in by the promise that they can cancel their colonoscopies forever. In this regard, Micozzi has lent himself to a scheme that can lead to substantial harm and even death for the susceptible.

In the meantime, lots of research is going on regarding the benefits of some of these alternative treatments. For example, at the moment there are 98 clinical trials going on with curcumin – not only in cancer, but in several other conditions. And these are being done by mainstream institutions – universities, foundations, pharma companies. The objective is to find genuine, reliable evidence that these remedies work. If the evidence holds up, mark my words, mainstream medicine will accept the alternative remedies as bona fide drugs.

* * * * * * *

As always, Doc Gumshoe thanks his readers for comments of all flavors. Right now, I’m weighing a couple of subject for future pieces. On the one hand, there’s been a lot of talk about diabetes – this disease is affecting more and more of us, here and in other nations, and wreaking its ugly havoc on younger and younger people. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies keep introducing new agents for diabetes – and no questions, new agents are needed – with varying and debatable degrees of success. So, a look at what’s going on in diabetes? Another possibility is depression. The question is, how effective are any of the current treatments in restoring people to relatively normal function? Let me know which of these – or any other subjects – you’d like to hear about.

Alan DeCarlo
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Alan DeCarlo
May 21, 2014 9:23 am

I am a physician age 66 with ho family history of colon cancer. I had my first colonoscopy at age 51 and had two polyps, one of which was precancerous adenomatous. Five years later there were no polyps. Five years after that; one benign polyp and four years after that four precancerous polyps.

Do not ever cancel a colonoscopy procedure. If I had, i would be dead.

Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
Admin
4463
May 21, 2014 9:33 am

We’ll put! I had my first at 39 due to family history — Dad was diagnosed at 52 and lived only another 18 months, colon cancer can certainly be fast, cruel and symptom free (until it’s too late).

Binyomin A
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Binyomin A
May 21, 2014 12:03 pm

Ditto for me. I lost my Dad when he was 55, he never had a colonoscopy until it was too late.
I get my regularly.

David S.
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David S.
May 21, 2014 2:32 pm

I watched Dr. Micozzi’s “presentation” a short time ago. As someone who for better or worse is inclined to at least consider conspiracy theories, I was actually questioning whether or not to have a colonoscopy – I mean, who doesn’t want to avoid some of the un-pleasantries involved? That said, my physician said “you’re 55 and you really need to do this”. I’m scheduled to have it done next month. Thanks so much for the fine article.

Tim H
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Tim H
May 22, 2014 3:20 am

My first colonoscopy revealed 3 polyps which were ok and removed. My second one was clear and yesterday I had my third colonoscopy where they removed a single polyp and are now checking it– definitley worth having the procedure. My first three polyps if undetected may well have turned cancerous

Dave
Guest
0
May 21, 2014 4:19 pm
Hi, enjoyed the article. As a recently retired health care worker who has worked with scopes a big part of my career ,there is a dirty little secret that even most health care workers do not know about. First colonoscopes and bronchoscopes cannot be sterilized they are disinfected which is not the same as sterilized. They are soaked in a solution called glutaraldehyde which does not always kill all germs present. The inside( channel ) has to have a brush run through it to get any debri out before the disinfection solution has any chance to work at all. In… Read more »
interlocutor
Irregular
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interlocutor
May 21, 2014 9:35 am

I’d love to see an article on treatments for depression and/or it’s cousin anxiety. My own experience seems to suggest the majority of current medications are on par with witch-doctor potions or exorcisms.

Mike
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Mike
May 21, 2014 12:35 pm
I don’t think you’re too far off, George, but you forgot Voo-Doo. Pharmaceutical companies are out of control and unfortunately a vast majority of physicians follow suit. I have MS and have plenty of my own stories in that arena, but I won’t get into, not the right place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against doctors. My nephew is a top preventative medicine doc and what I’ve learned is that there are other ways to take control of our health. Check out http://www.Doterra.com. When talking about anxiety, depression and darn near everything else, there is a better way. Step… Read more »
Rusty Brown in Canada
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Rusty Brown in Canada
May 21, 2014 9:35 am
After my colonoscopy, couple of years ago, I received a detailed, handwritten note from the Dr. (!) advising me that, because of my age, I probably would not ever need another colonoscopy – the implication being that I would probably die of something else before cancer could develop anyway. (But only in the absence of suspicious symptoms any time in the future). Suits me, for sure. Other than that particular set of circumstances, however, I’m in favour of the procedure, “yuck factor” notwithstanding. (I got to watch the monitor in the little darkened room where it was done, and the… Read more »
searchingwayne
Irregular
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searchingwayne
May 21, 2014 9:42 am

Great Article. Very much looking forward to article on diabetes

SageNot
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SageNot
May 21, 2014 12:35 pm

Ditto, I have T2 & millions of Sr. Citizens have no idea if they are pre-diabetic still.

Stu C.
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Stu C.
May 21, 2014 9:49 am

Is there a suggested or recommended cut off age for colonoscopy’s ?
I’m 76 years old and have had a colonoscopy at 65 and at 70 years of age.
Thanks,
Stu

Jim
Guest
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May 21, 2014 9:59 am
Doc: In the research that I have done on cancer, the medical estblishment does not want a cure because they make billions of dollars.Nor do the cancer societies. Same thing. Many times Docotrs do more damage to men with prostate cancer than the cancer itself and the person would have outlived the cancer, but they don’t. Many readings are false positivers with PSA tests. Read Susanne Sommers books on cancer. She had it herself and in the last instance had she listened to Doctors she would be dead. A misdiagnosis. Doctors are prohibited to tell a patient about such simple… Read more »
Richard
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Richard
May 21, 2014 10:58 am

Offensive and ridiculous.
As I know many a medical practitioner, I can tell you that this is absolute tin foil hat BS, up there with the ‘antivaccination’ nutjobs.
The stuff from your “health food catalogue ” was free? of cost and side effects??
For any remedy to be effective, it will have side effects, even a placebo, if it encourages somebody to take inadequate and ineffective remedies for something otherwise remediable.
The Amish tend to lead a simpler, cleaner life which will make a difference to their disease profiles.

Caulker
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Caulker
May 21, 2014 11:26 am

Right on , Jim !! The ”health” industry is BIG so don’t rock the boat. Everyone has someone close that could lose a job .

Michael Jorrin,
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Michael Jorrin (aka Doc Gumshoe)
May 21, 2014 12:30 pm
Jim, I’m afraid you’re mistaken when you say physicians are forbidden to recommend probiotics. I had a lower respiratory infection about a month ago, was prescribed an antibiotic AND a probiotic to alleviate the GI side effects, and my wife has been told to take probiotics by at least two of her physicians. As for your view that the establishment doesn’t want a cancer cure because it would interfere with their quest for profits … If that were true, why are there so many pharma companies, universities, foundations, etc, spending billions of dollars – that’s BILLIONS – looking for effective… Read more »
Steve
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Steve
May 22, 2014 9:03 am

Michael, yes the pharma industry does spend billions on research. Somewhere in the range of 7% of their revenues. Are you also aware that they spend 5 times that approximately 35% on marketing the drugs. Check your facts before stating.

Dr Larry Von
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Dr Larry Von
May 22, 2014 6:29 pm
you said, As for your view that the establishment doesn’t want a cancer cure because it would interfere with their quest for profits … If that were true, why are there so many pharma companies, universities, foundations, etc, spending billions of dollars – that’s BILLIONS – looking for effective cancer treatments? What they or the researchers are looking for is not a magic bullet, but a protocol which manages the disease, but does not eradicate it. That is much harder to accomplish. You kill the cash cow, if you cure the patient, unless the ailment is an infection, which you… Read more »
SageNot
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SageNot
May 21, 2014 1:11 pm
You’re absolutely correct Jim, but be prepared to have millions of medical lemmings on your case. I’m 82 now, unless I see blood in my stool, I’ve had my last colonoscopy. 3 yrs ago, on the same day I had my last colonoscopy my bladder shut down completely. It took an ER visit with a catheterization procedure to give me relief. At that same time I was seeing a rheumatologist for my PMR (a DNA gift!) She said while she was being trained in Russia, dozens of Sr. aged men having colonoscopies had their bladders shut down too. It’s the… Read more »
Jerry
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Jerry
May 21, 2014 7:45 pm
Alexander Pope once wrote “… a little learning is a dangerous thing!” Sage Not is definitely not a sage. The reason some patients develop urinary retention after a colonoscopy has nothing to do with urethral injury or irritation. It has all to do with the sedative medication that is administered before the procedure. Half of men over 50 have prostate gland enlargement and this is the proximate cause of the urinary retention post procedure. If you read your operative permit, it probably would have listed urinary retention as one of the possible side effects and risks of the procedure. I… Read more »
Rusty Brown in Canada
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Rusty Brown in Canada
May 22, 2014 9:18 am

I’m nowhere near 82 yet, but I find myself frequently saying the same thing to those noticeably younger than myself: “…just wait till you get to be my age…”

hudinero
Member
4
hudinero
May 21, 2014 10:06 am

well Heck…I was looking for a way out…Not Happening!~! Set up for “THE PROCEDURE” June 10, 2014…Not really looking forward to it but the Alternative sounds Very Finalistic!~! Thanks for The Advice!~!

Ralph
Guest
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Ralph
May 21, 2014 10:10 am

You think in this day and age where the U.S. could destroy an entire population with one nuclear bomb that the medical community of gastroenterology could develop a less invasive procedure for full colon investigation. The procedure seems a bit mid evil to me. Reminds me of the Spanish Inquisition. Barbaric to say the least.

Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
Admin
4463
May 21, 2014 10:34 am

I think most men are just being babies about colonoscopies, frankly — prep is unpleasant but certainly better than a day with a stomach bug or even a hangover, and the scope is just a short rest with no pain (I didn’t want to watch, so I slept). The idea of the exam gives qualms, but just imagine giving birth to a child and you’ll realize why your wife is rolling her eyes at you when you grouse about a colonoscopy.

bj
Guest
0
May 21, 2014 5:37 pm

I’ve had 3 and YES the prep is AWFUL! However, the actual procedure involved an IV with drugs and all I remember about the procedure was the nurse saying “turn onto your left side!”

Rusty Brown in Canada
Guest
0
Rusty Brown in Canada
May 22, 2014 9:22 am

Yes. I was given some kind of euphoric before the procedure and floated pleasantly through it all. And, as you note, the procedure is done while you are in the fetal position, not on your back, which makes obvious good sense if you think about it.

herman m medow, Ph.D.
Guest
0
herman m medow, Ph.D.
May 21, 2014 9:15 pm
just update- there is a different fecal test- the occult blood test has about 30 some % of detecting cancer- the new one-not so new FIT immunochemical test that reported at 8or9 out of ten- not quite as accurate as colonoscopy, and if positive should schedule colonscopy- if negative, changes the risk/benefit ratio considerably- remember that the odds for any population number might obscure the fact that the probability for each individual is either 0 or1- you don’t get 1/100,000 of a reaction – on another note, there are some folks who not only do not hype- they produce excellent… Read more »
Dr Larry Von
Guest
0
Dr Larry Von
May 22, 2014 6:35 pm

so why isnt the protocol recommended, if you found, some other astute
in pharma has found it as well. ala, and benfotiamine… uh, no money, no patent, just recommend it to your patient, if you have a heart and maybe a soul to go with it.

colorronr
Irregular
3
colorronr
May 21, 2014 10:54 pm

You are so RIGHT TJ. At 80…I’ve had a few under my belt [er..butt], and feel they are no big deal. What guy would rather give birth??? I doubt any.

Carl May
Guest
0
Carl May
May 22, 2014 12:48 am

If you think the colonoscopy procedure is daunting and weird, gentlemen, wait until you start having cystoscopy procedures for checking out your urethra and bladder. (You are going to put that thing where?!) I’m a veteran of both multiple times and shudder to think of the consequences of the polyps or bladder tumor discovered by them if left un-excised. I don’t know what motivates bright MDs to specialize in these particular branches of medicine, but I’m darn glad some of them do.

Tom
Guest
0
Tom
May 21, 2014 10:21 am

I thought this was going to be about Exact Sciences’ (EXAS) Cologuard stool test for colon cancer, not yet approved.

xcernfsi
Member
23
xcernfsi
May 21, 2014 11:03 am

And if approved, would not be suggested as a replacement for a colonoscopy. Their pitch is to go after the population that, for whatever reason, does not get scoped. The FDA is evaluating EXAS’s test against the fecal occult blood test Doc Gumshoe menitoned above.

lmountfort
Member
9
lmountfort
May 21, 2014 10:27 am

Would like to know where research leads us on vertigo. It’s not being taken seriously given dead ends I’ve encountered in finding real answers and help. The Epley maneuver while helpful in some situations, doesn’t stand as a cure, nor does taking a relaxant drug to mask it. And for sure a medical person calling it “the whirlies” doesn’t make it cute, especially when there’s no clue to fixing what’s askew in the ear or elsewhere. I’ll hope vertigo gets a few votes too.

susan levy
Guest
0
susan levy
May 21, 2014 12:23 pm

This is when I would seek help from a traditional chinese medicine practitioner. Often the kidney meridian is involved and acupuncture might work well here. Of course since western medicine has no answers for this they are ok with trying it! Might even be paid by health insurance. Check your diet as well. Are you drinking water?
Susan

Elaine Lawrie
Guest
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Elaine Lawrie
May 21, 2014 10:35 am

Mom had colon cancer so started colonoscopies at age 50. Am now 77 and Doc says no more – could do more damage than good to aging body We all know colon cancer is slowest growing cancer there is. So here’s hoping for a long life.

Rusty Brown in Canada
Guest
0
Rusty Brown in Canada
May 21, 2014 11:25 am

The exception being, of course, if you get any symptoms that indicate potential trouble, in which case a colonoscopy becomes very important.
So I was told, anyway.

Mi
Guest
0
Mi
May 21, 2014 11:48 am

Wishing you a long, healthy and happy life. Your statement that colon cancer is the slowest growing cancer is factually incorrect. Colon cancer, as with any cancer, is not a single, uniform entity that acts at the same level of aggression in all people. Some people who are at high risk may progress to cancer and die within a year without adequate surveillance and treatment. People with other cancers, e.g. prostate, are more likely to die from other causes than their cancer. Colon cancer is not the slowest growing cancer.

SageNot
Guest
0
SageNot
May 21, 2014 1:22 pm

Right on Elaine, your MD deserves a compliment of the highest order! Age matters.

vincent nania
Guest
0
May 21, 2014 10:38 am

Sorry Dr. Gumshoe, the AMA protocol for cancer has a 98% failure rate after 5 years.
The alternative cancer cures with 90% cure rates over lifetimes (no 5 year limit test) are successful in Reno, NV, and Tijuana. You are hurting a lot of people with you establishment cancer factories being as good as alternative clinies. It simply is not true.
Read “Adios, Cancer”

Vince Nania
St. Louis

Mi
Guest
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Mi
May 21, 2014 12:12 pm

“AMA protocol for cancer” does not exist. What are you referring to?

William douglas
Guest
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William douglas
May 21, 2014 10:47 am

I like your new format very impressive. And it was great to get my daily Gumshoe reading in the morning. Thank you. William

Aaron
Guest
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Aaron
May 21, 2014 10:49 am
Michael: Good balanced article that is informative rather than aiming to ridicule. I am though convinced that profit motive shapes mightily what is used in treatment and in fact what we even hear about as consumers/patients. A case in point is elderberry against cold and flu viruses. I know of 2 double-blind studies of its effectiveness as well as use it much in our family. It is amazingly effective more often than not bringing a complete remission of illness in a couple of days. If I don’t stick with it for about 5 days, the illness comes back. I suspect… Read more »
Michael Jorrin,
Guest
0
Michael Jorrin (aka Doc Gumshoe)
May 21, 2014 12:34 pm

Aaron, thanks – I will use my noggin & check elderberry.

topcat
Irregular
7
topcat
May 21, 2014 2:04 pm

So much information has been lost through the ages. TY for this info. With so much questionable information bombarding us daily from advertizing and biased parties, info with links to back it up makes it MUCH easier to allow all minds to exercise inquiring. Humans are curious by nature, but finding reliable info is often time consuming and frustrating when you aren’t an expert. Thank you again Doc & Travis for all you help in bringing balanced information.

topcat
Irregular
7
topcat
May 21, 2014 2:06 pm

oops: “for all your help”

sigmull
Irregular
41
sigmull
May 21, 2014 10:51 am
I too am a physician and I marvel at Doc’s in depth and balanced medical reviews. Celebrities with little medical knowledge can do much good (such as the breast cancer campaign) or much harm by professing very special knowledge that only she/he possesses. I am amused at the use of the word “natural” as being almost medicine in itself. But so are poison ivy, tainted mushrooms, Arsenic and Pb among many nasty natural items. I have served on review committees for the NIH and believe me those docs work hard and long hours and are among the very best clinical… Read more »
vivianlewis
Member
167
vivianlewis
May 21, 2014 11:00 am
because a rotten family history of colorectal cancer is a by-product of a good family history of braininess I have been colonscoped for ages. also being female I have had two babies. the scope is nowhere as invasive or unpleasant. But it has become more expensive to my insurer now as they require me to be anaesthesized, unlike in the past when I could watch the TV show of the procedure. Dr Micozzi is probably an honest if somewhat whacky physician but he has become the tool of a newsletter-promotion outfit which is not only aimed at making money (they… Read more »
Tom G
Guest
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Tom G
May 21, 2014 8:04 pm

A lot of pro & con discussion. Thank you for bringing up the cost. If you pay for your insurance, be sure to check on coverage. I learned the expensive way. Procedure covered 100%, cost of bioposy on 2 polyps…my cost. With monthly premiums + out of pocket I will be over 14,000 for the year if no one in family goes in again this year ( not likely ). Put other procedures , skin biops., on hold. Wait until the rest of the country gets a good dose of aca.

rick biggert
Guest
0
May 21, 2014 11:03 am

Thank you for the article. One on diabetes would be welcome.
I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am about the depth and detail you go into when broaching a subject. From what I can tell, always an excellent job. Too bad the rest of the world isn’t as honest.

Nathan
Guest
0
Nathan
May 21, 2014 11:15 am
Look up Rick Simpson’s Run from the Cure on Youtube. His oil extracted from cannibis seems very powerful and curing many cancers that doctors have given up on. Trouble is it’s cheap (well except for the fact of prohibition) and easy to make your own and it’s helping many people with much more than cancer. And it’s natural! (was as natural as an extracted oil can be). For me I’ve seen enough testimonies (all over the net) that I am convinced enough that I would certainly give it a try before any chemo but I don’t know how it relates… Read more »
Ron Homan
Guest
0
Ron Homan
May 21, 2014 11:22 am

Excellent article as always. I would like to second the request for an article on vertigo. And I would also be interested in your take on depression.

dcohn
Irregular
159
May 21, 2014 11:32 am

I assume the concept of eating a proper diet will never be the focus of doctors even though diet is likely the cause of most illness as our bodies struggle to digest incompatible foods.
Read Dr. Perlmutter’s work on grains like wheat and the dangers to humans. Real double blind stuff you guys love. And is the China Study also fiction?
I am sure most doctors care very much but like so many people in so many industries you are being lied to. Big Pharma certainly has too much pull.
My two cents.

Rusty Brown in Canada
Guest
0
Rusty Brown in Canada
May 21, 2014 2:04 pm

Your thoughts tie in nicely with the proposition that much of modern cancer occurs because we get too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 fats in our diet, and that our cell walls end up being made up of omega-6 instead of the preferred and better-functioning omega-3 because that is all that is available, and that this situation then allows “bad stuff” to get into the cells and cause havoc with the DNA in the nucleus.
Don’t know how true this might be, but it’s an interesting concept nonetheless.

Harley
Guest
0
Harley
May 21, 2014 11:41 am

CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) provides funding to 25 states and 4 tribes across the United States for five years. The CRCCP’s goal is to increase colorectal (colon) cancer screening rates among men and women aged 50 years and older from about 64% to 80% in the funded states by 2014. An increase in screening rates will reduce illness and death from colorectal cancer.

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/crccp/?mobile=nocontent

D
Guest
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D
May 21, 2014 11:56 am

I’d love to cancel my colonoscopy, but I won’t — see comments above. Improving one’s diet and adding beneficial ingredients is never a bad idea, though. Everyone should be paying attention.

Judith Crosbie
Guest
0
Judith Crosbie
May 21, 2014 11:59 am

Excellent article indeed thanks to Doc for the great overview.
In regard to vertigo I would also be interested to know more. While the Eply manouver is not a ‘cure’ it worked in my case after having it done once and no more vertigo for 18 months now. If it returns I would not run back to the practitioner to have it done again a simple procedure and no drugs necessary.

ray
Guest
0
ray
May 21, 2014 12:28 pm

I would like to here more on depression. While not as deadly it effects quality of life as much or more and can be a problem for many years of life.

John Harris
Guest
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John Harris
May 21, 2014 12:52 pm
I believe the truth is somewhere between the medical doctors who belittle alternative or complimentary health care, and those who scorn chemotherapy as cut and burn. There is considerable evidence for instance that the polysaccharides in mushrooms help mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy and make it more effective. Geez – the mushroom extracts have no negative effects- at worst harmless – there is some evidence they help but my oncologist will not even consider prescribing the extracts. Instead he should start a clinical trial and get it funded to pay for the mushroom extract. I would be happy to… Read more »
SageNot
Guest
0
SageNot
May 21, 2014 1:33 pm

I understand why most people think it’s criminal to disagree with your MD, or AMA/FDA,
but politics aside I’ve seen with my own healthcare that alternative health does serve a purpose, who cares if not all MD’s become millionaires doing procedures that put your life at unnecessary risk? In this instance having your colon penetrated is cruel &/or deadly & so do the other results (like my own), they s/b avoided as you age unless there is blood in your stool.

My last words, I promise!

Stuart Withers
Guest
0
Stuart Withers
May 21, 2014 2:22 pm

John Harris you are spot on! Feel free to contact me at cleowithers@gmail.com.

Solyom
Guest
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Solyom
May 21, 2014 1:00 pm
I am an unpaid but not retired physician. I help at a free medical clinic. I was part of the group that many of the supplements were no better than a good balanced diet. The typical American diet is unbalanced and irrational. A simple life style helps in prevention of all kinds of trouble. A balance between hard physical work and skilled labor and mental work seasoned with healthy relaxation goes a long way towards preventions of life’s illness and evil. Count Leo Tolstoi got that one right. For younger folks a yearly test for blood in the stool risk… Read more »
highnesska
Member
4
highnesska
May 21, 2014 2:55 pm

Great, realistic, useful comment. Thank you much.

Stuart Withers
Guest
0
Stuart Withers
May 21, 2014 1:25 pm

I would like to congratulate Doc G. on his article, but I would like to offer to collaborqte with him in explaining certain important things he needs to know. I invite him or others to contact me for a fuller explanation. My expertise lies in the field of alternative medicine and certain health problems which exist today largely due to the intervention of the US government in support of US industry at the expense of the interests of the consumer and the patient. Too big a subject to cover here! my email cleowithers@gmail.com

Bob
Guest
0
Bob
May 21, 2014 1:45 pm
I’ve decided that it’s time for me to join the Irregulars to help support this site. Although I enjoy and benefit from Travis’s articles, it’s the Doc Gumshoe articles that really made me decide to join. Also, here is another vote for an article on Diabetes. Being recently diagnosed, I’ve been researching extensively and found that the ADA-based guidelines used by most Doctors don’t agree with the research, and are completely different from what Endocrinologists recommend. I’m sure that Doc Gumshoe’s sleuthing would prove interesting . For anyone with Diabetes, I highly recommend the website http://www.bloodsugar101.com which seems well researched… Read more »
abpromislow
Irregular
0
abpromislow
May 21, 2014 4:39 pm

My doctor recommended that my last colonoscopy at age 80 should indeed be my last as it again proved negative, as had all the others every ten years.

gummydave
Irregular
299
gummydave
May 21, 2014 8:49 pm

Just had my first colonoscopy at age 52. The prep was worse than I expected but the procedure completely pain free with no after-effects. Don’t avoid it if you need one!

emanon7
Irregular
0
May 21, 2014 9:10 pm

Every man over 40 years should have a colonoscopy!
First time i had 2 polyps, the second time 3 and one of them was bad, the 3rd time 2 polyps.
Scheduled in 3 years for another.
Please have a colonoscopy if you are 40 or over and especially if you are a man.

midorosan
Irregular
46
midorosan
May 21, 2014 10:07 pm

Good article thanks Doc and Travis, like you Travis I slept through mine and then added a music track to the DVD great fun for unwary guests.
My main concern now is my immune system I suffer from hypothyroidism and take 150 micrograms of Euthyrox each day. I suffer from persistent colds especially if I get wet particularly from heavy sweating, living in Hong Kong and playing golf in May/June does not help.
Any thought on how I might help myself deal with this situation would be welcome.

Lorne Cutler
Guest
0
Lorne Cutler
May 22, 2014 12:45 am
When I had my colonoscopy, the television in the waiting room was playing the Rotor Rooter episode of Undercover Boss. I thought that this was an interesting coincidence until I left the clinic and the same show was playing. I subsequently spoke to someone else who had the procedure at the same clinic and he said that the same tape was playing. Clearly a clinic with a sense of humour even if it got a bit repetitive for the front desk staff. By the way, clear and clean as a whistle. With the sedatives they give you, the night before… Read more »
Carl May
Guest
0
Carl May
May 22, 2014 1:27 am
No question that diabetes and depression (with associated fatigue?) would be good topics for review. Lyme disease is said to be the most rapidly growing infectious disease in the U.S., although this may be due more to an increased rate of diagnosis than to more infections with the spirochete. If you want to dig into an unresolved can of worms with much left to be learned, this would be an interesting subject, with Lyme-Literate MDs (LLMDs) now on the increase and standing up to the traditionalists (many associated with big pharma, big HMO, and big insurance) in the IDSA. Another… Read more »
O. Kaplan
Guest
0
O. Kaplan
May 22, 2014 2:13 am

I refused colonoscopy, but persuaded my HMO to allow me to have the Quest Labs Colovantage (blood) test (it is FDA-approved). Sensitivity and specificity is not as good as colonoscopy but this factor can be compensated by doing about 3 such blood tests instead of one colonoscopy.
Strange that no postings have mentioned the ingestible capsule which transmits pictures of the colon and of the whole digestive tract. I think it is already available in the USA.

Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
Admin
4463
May 22, 2014 12:46 pm
Given Imaging (GIVN), which created that “camera pill”, was touted by a few investment newsletters over the years and was bought out by Covidien just a few months ago — they recently got approval for their “colon cam” for people who have “incomplete” colonoscopies for some reason (surgery, anatomy, etc.) and can’t get a full scope. From what I’ve read it sounds like the images are still quite subpar compared to an actual endoscope, and of course the pill can’t snip polyps for biopsy, but apparently the technology has made some advancements in the ten+ years that it’s been around… Read more »
jzjessez
Member
0
jzjessez
May 22, 2014 4:08 pm

I’ve been there and it was negative.All the side info?Just Listen to your Dr. Get it if required.Digest it and Reprint the important parts though” I’m impressed”.
Joseph Gaughan.

frankw17
Irregular
568
May 22, 2014 6:04 pm
Good article and comments. To offer a little on the lighter side, read below. Frank Colonoscopy Journal: I called my friend Andy, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis . Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn’t really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, ‘HE’S GOING TO… Read more »
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