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The actor’s death should be a warning that colorectal cancers happen in people younger than 45, the age that government guidelines recommend testing for African Americans. Baseman’s cancer was already at stage 3, which means it has grown through the abdominal wall. It then metastasized to the liver and brain making it exponentially harder to treat. 

Rates of colorectal cancers have skyrocketed amongst the African Americans under 50 has doubled in the past two decades, despite the improvements in testing and an overall decrease in colon cancer rates.  

But doing colonoscopy younger than 50 may not be covered by the insurance and granted, Boseman could probably afford the test, most people couldn’t. It’s also not addressing the underlying cause of colorectal cancer. 

Here is a quick rundown.

Increase risk:

Obesity
Red meat
Western style diet
Alcohol
Smoking

Decrease risk:

Physical activity
Vitamin D
Fiber and phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables
Pro and prebiotic supplement
Low dose aspirin
Estrogen in postmenopausal women

 

Working with patients with GI issues is a big part of my practice. In the past, I recommended people as young as 19 to get colonoscopy, but the idea of chugging a discussing liquid to clean out your colon and then staying close to a bathroom for hours is enough to make many people cringe. Dr. Mayur Triveri, the gastroenterologist I work with helps this process by using a two-part cleanse equivalent of taking a few shots. They also try to get insurance approval with people who younger than 50 and work with those who don’t have insurance.  

But in my practice I advocate prevention and health promotion. That means healthy lifestyle behaviors (diet, physical activity and weight control), use of chemopreventative agents, avoiding the exposure to environmental carcinogens, as well as screening for inflammation, blood, pathogenic and procarcinogenic bacteria, colonic enzymes, controlling growth of harmful bacteria. We can do that with a comprehensive GI test, GI MAPs that most PPO insurance pays for. 

Bottom line, getting diagnosed and treated early is crucial. Do not ignore your symptoms and get tested. But even if it’s the advanced stages that may require treatment with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapies or a combination of those, it is not too late to implement a wholistic modalities outlined above.

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