Dear Editor,

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in a Letter to the Editor that March is National Colorectal Awareness month. In that letter, I reminded you that if you are over the age of 50 and have not had a colonoscopy, you are due. That is because up to 75 percent of colon cancers can be avoided with regular screening.  

There are other steps we can do to prevent colon cancer. Some of these are hard, habit-changing behaviors yet others are easy:

• Keeping weight in check.

• Taking a daily multivitamin.

• Getting enough vitamin D. About 1000 IU per day.

• Being physically active for 30 minutes or more on most days.

The above are listed as moderate benefit. For many of us, three of the four above are easy.  Listed below are some other factors that help lower your risk.

• Not smoking.

• Limiting alcohol.

• Eating three or more servings of whole grain daily.

• Avoiding processed meat (like hot dogs).

• Limiting intake of red meat.

• Getting enough calcium. About 1,000-1,200 IU per day.

However, the single best thing you can do to avoid colon cancer is get a colonoscopy. Whether it is here locally or at another facility. This is critical if you are above the age of 50 (some experts say 45). Understand here that I am just not talking to those who need a colonoscopy. I am also speaking to spouses and children who need to help a loved one overcome that big hurdle of avoidance. That is, putting off what you know you should do.  

I am not an Alabama fan, but I once heard Nick Saban speak about the challenges of managing his players’ behavior. He said (paraphrased), “There is something you want to do that you should not. Are you going to do it? And then there is something you need to do that you do not want to do. Are you going to do that?” Colonoscopies fall into that latter category and that is often because of that common fallacy that many people have about colonoscopies. That is the mistaken notion there is pain associated with having a colonoscopy. The truth is you will have zero recollection of a colonoscopy and you will otherwise awaken never the wiser that anything had been done to you.

So in between my last letter and this one, I took my own advice and scheduled my 10-year, follow-up colonoscopy for March 19. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. A colonoscopy is a very easy and necessary test, and it can be life changing for many of you. Please schedule time with your primary care professional and get scheduled for yours.

Jim Edmondson, STRHS-Pulaski CEO

1265 E. College St., Pulaski, TN 38478

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