Road Today - - Guest Column: Health -

Ithink 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 stool, pro­longed changes in bowel habits and ane­mia as­so­ci­ated with colon polyps. How­ever, of­ten­times colon polyps do not cause any no­tice­able symp­toms. There­fore, it is im­por­tant to have reg­u­lar check ups which may in­clude screen­ing tests such as 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 very 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 are at higher risk of de­vel­op­ing colon polyps. Phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity, poor diet and to­bacco use­able have been iden­ti­fied as the ma­jor risk fac­tors for this pro­fes­sion.

Thus, try to keep these sim­ple tips in mind next time you are go­ing down the high­way and you will be well on your way to a polyp free colon.

Un­til next time, drive safely.

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