Recent news reports indicate that diagnosis of colon cancer among individuals under the age of 50 has been steadily increasing. While one’s diet may be a contributing factor (among others), overuse of antibiotics may also be a problem.

The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals at average risk for colon cancer have their first colonoscopy starting at age 45. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. If colon cancer is not detected early, it can pose a greater health risk. That’s one reason an increase among young people being diagnosed who have not yet been screened is concerning.

Medical and nutrition experts both agree that diet can increase one’s risk for colorectal cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) underscores that limiting consumption of red meat and pork and avoiding processed meats can help reduce risk of certain cancers including colorectal cancer. Read this link for AICR’s commentary on this topic. Consuming processed foods, a low fiber, high fat diet, increased alcohol consumption, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle are other factors. Read this link from Mayo Clinic.

Photo: © Artinun Prekmoung –

Antibiotics are becoming our worst health enemy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.” Antibiotic resistance means that bacteria become resistant to the drugs designed to eradicate them.

Another concern is the impact antibiotics have on your gut microbiome. If you have ever taken antibiotics you may have experienced digestive issues or stomach upset. One reason is antibiotics can wipe out more than just the bad bacteria; they can also harm the good gut bacteria that your body needs to stay healthy. Several reports have pointed to increased antibiotic use as creating an elevated risk for certain cancers including stomach and colorectal. Read this link to a report from “Gut,” a leading journal in gastroenterology.

Yet, the CDC also reports, “About 30 percent of antibiotics, or 47 million prescriptions, are prescribed unnecessarily in doctors’ offices and emergency departments in the United States, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing and use a national priority.”

I am just carping on antibiotics. Don’t get me started on the epidemic use of antidepressants and painkillers. Every time I turn on the television, there’s another drug commercial. The thing is, many of these drugs have a long list of side effects, and prolonged use can impact one’s overall health.

Pop a few questions before popping pills

Before you taken any prescription medication ask your medical provider why s/he is prescribing a specific drug and whether there are other protocols to consider such as diet and lifestyle adjustments. Make sure you fully understand all side effects of the drug, including interactions with certain foods and beverages, vitamins, herbal elixirs, supplements or any other medications (including OTC) that you may be taking.  Also ask about any risks from exposure to sunlight or high/low temperatures while taking the drugs. Common antibiotics like doxycycline can make you sun sensitive.

My advice to you is this: Before you pop the pills, pop some questions like.

  • “Is this drug really necessary?”
  • “What are some non-drug intervention options?”
  • “What are the possible side effects and potential interactions with other drugs, food and beverages (both alcoholic and non alcohol).”

Make sure you are clear on when and how to take a drug (e.g. on a full or empty stomach and time of day) and for how long. It is important to follow directions and take medications as prescribed, but it is also prudent to ask plenty of questions.

Be your best health advocate and make sure you get the answers you need.