Should You Be Concerned About Bowel Polyps?
Polyps in the bowel are extremely common, particularly in those over the age of 50, or in people with a family history of polyps or bowel cancer.
Not all polyps are harmful, but some have the potential to develop into cancer if not monitored. Polyps tend to occur in the large intestine, called the colon; therefore they are commonly referred to as colon polyps.
Do you know the symptoms of colon polyps and what you should do if you have them?
The discovery of polyps in your intestine should be taken seriously, because if dealt with promptly, you may be able to avoid the development of more serious bowel conditions.
What are colon polyps?
Polyps are just a growth of tissue that develops on the large intestine. A polyp can be raised and look like a pea, or it can be flat. There can be just one polyp or multiple polyps. Most polyps are benign, but occasionally a polyp may develop into cancer.
There are 3 main types of colon polyps:
Ordinary polyps. These polyps commonly develop between the ages of 40 and 60. Most are not cancerous, but if not monitored, they could become cancerous in around 10 years. If members of your family have these polyps, you are more likely to develop them too.
Hereditary familial polyposis. This is a genetic condition where there can be hundreds or thousands of polyps in the colon. These polyps tend to grow very early in life, and they almost certainly become cancerous. Luckily the condition is not very common.
Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer. This is also a genetic disorder but isn’t as common as familial polypsosis. Again, the risk of colon cancer is high. This condition is also referred to as Lynch syndrome and close family members are also at heightened risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Risk factors for developing bowel polyps
- Being overweight
- Lack of physical exercise
- Advancing age, particularly over the age of 50
- History of constipation
- Having a family member who has had bowel polyps or bowel cancer
- Moderate to high alcohol intake
- Diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrate
- Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance
- Vitamin D deficiency
What are the symptoms of bowel polyps?
Unfortunately, in most cases, there are no symptoms at all, or the symptoms are so mild that they are ignored. A lot of people put up with disturbed digestive function their whole lives, therefore don’t notice the subtle symptoms of bowel polyps.
If there are symptoms, the most likely ones include:
- Constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than 7 days. Of course they can be caused by numerous other conditions.
- Rectal bleeding. If you notice blood on the toilet paper after having a bowel motion, you should see your doctor. It might just be due to hemorrhoids, but it could be something more serious.
- Unusually dark colored stools. This can mean there is blood in the stool and you should see your doctor.
How do doctors treat bowel polyps?
If your doctor has discovered polyps in your colon, several of them will be removed and viewed under a microscope. This is necessary in order to determine if they are cancerous. People with a history of polyps need to have regular colonoscopies to check the colon and see if the polyps regrow.
What can be done to prevent and manage bowel polyps?
If you have had a bowel polyp, or a family member has had bowel polyps, it is vital to see your doctor regularly for a colonoscopy. If treated in the early stages, polyps are harmless and easily removed.
The following suggestions can help to keep your colon healthy:
- Eat lots of vegetables. Vegetables are an excellent source of fiber that is not harsh and scratchy to the bowel wall. Many people do not tolerate grains or legumes well, yet vegetables are easy to digest and they provide valuable bulk to the stool. It is very important to keep your bowel moving each day. Ideally you would have between one and three bowel motions each day. The longer the waste is allowed to stay in contact with your bowel wall, the greater the risk that polyps will form.
- If you struggle with constipation, you may need help from a gentle bulking laxative like Fibertone. The ingredients in Fibertone help to sweep the colon clean and they are not addictive. This is good because it means Fibertone will not weaken your bowel.
- Irritable bowel syndrome is extremely common. It is thought to affect approximately one in five Americans, and may raise the risk of bowel polyps in the future. If your gut is chronically irritated it is important to find the cause. Perhaps you have a food sensitivity. Maybe you have an overgrowth of the wrong bacteria living in your gut and not enough of the good bugs. It’s also possible you have a parasitic gut infection. Intestinal Parasite Cleanse capsules are wonderful for helping to clear bad bugs from the bowel, and they should be followed by a good quality probiotic.
- If you hold stress and tension in your bowel and that results in constipation, magnesium can do wonders for this problem. It is very effective for people who get constipated when travelling, or while staying at someone else’s home. Magnesium helps to relax the nerves and muscles of the bowel.
- Try to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Many of us have a job where we must sit all day and that is unavoidable. Try to go for a walk before or after work, and try to make your weekends active. The exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous; it just has to be regular.
- Try to drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water or herbal tea each day. That will have a cleansing effect on your bowel and soften your stool. You could put a tablespoon of chia seeds into a glass of water and leave it to thicken for half an hour. Chia seeds are soothing to the bowel wall and they help to keep you feeling full and less likely to snack.
- Make sure you have optimal levels of vitamin D in your bloodstream. Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common so it’s best to see your doctor for a blood test. If you do not have time to get outside in the sunshine regularly, or you live in an area that doesn’t receive much sun, you may need a vitamin D supplement.
- Make sure you don’t have elevated blood insulin levels. Insulin is a growth promoting hormone. It encourages more rapid growth of polyps, and also tumors. Having elevated blood insulin is also known as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, syndrome X and pre-diabetes. The best way to lower insulin is to follow the low carbohydrate eating plan in my book I Can’t Lose Weight and I Don’t Know Why. The herbs bitter melon and gymnema, along with the nutrients chromium and lipoic acid also help to lower insulin, and they are found in Glicemic Balance capsules.
Bowel polyps are not to be ignored. If you are concerned about the health of your digestive tract, please see your doctor. For more information about bowel conditions and digestive problems see my book called The Healthy Liver and Bowel Book.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.