Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 8:22 pm | Fair 50º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Prevention Is Key to Your Colon Health

Click to view larger
(Cottage Health photo)

Colon health is a topic most people don’t want to think about, but if you’re over 50 it’s something you definitely should not ignore.

Those 50 and older have a significantly higher risk of developing cancer in the colon, which makes up most of the large intestine and measures roughly 3 to 6 feet long. Cancer of the colon and rectum (colorectal cancer) is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women, and ranks second as the leading cause of death in men.

Certain lifestyle factors increase the chances of colorectal cancer — with diet, weight and exercise playing the biggest roles, according to the American Cancer Society.

Being overweight raises the risk, and so does eating a diet with plenty of red meat and processed and cured meats (hot dogs, deli meats). Lack of exercise and physical activity can lead to a greater chance of cancer, while being more active can help lower the odds.

High consumption of alcohol (that includes wine) has also been linked to colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society advises that men consume no more than two alcoholic drinks a day and women should limit alcohol to one drink or glass a day.

“To find out if you are at risk for colorectal cancer, I urge everyone over 50 to schedule a colonoscopy,” explained Denise Holmes, RN, clinical manager of surgical services at Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, explained.

”If you have a family history of colon cancer, polyps or other risk factors, you may need a screening at an earlier age. Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented and cured if caught early.”

A colonoscopy takes only about 30 minutes, and patients are given sedation to keep them relaxed and comfortable. Some may also get deeper anesthesia if needed.

Preparing for the procedure is often considered the hardest part. A good prep requires eating low-fiber foods — that means no raw fruits and vegetables — for several days prior to your appointment. The day before the screening, only clear liquids can be consumed, and a bowel prep is also taken to completely clean out the colon.

Your primary care physician can help you schedule a colonoscopy, and will likely refer you to a gastroenterologist who will perform the procedure. Click here to find a doctor.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.


Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series