J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted February 22, 2011

Published in Health

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Cancer Screening...a very big business

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 Extensive screening gets patients in the door

Screening for cancer in the U.S. and other western countries has become a very big business...that's often followed by an even bigger business -- surgery, chemo and radiation.

Take the ubiquitous colonoscopy for example, with celebrities having the procedure televised to help raise our awareness -- identifying our cancer while it is still treatable. This colorectal screening has become almost as routine as the annual physical; it has simply become "the right thing to do" when you're over 50.

But, being a "big picture guy," I wanted to understand this situation better. While doing research last year for our book, I learned that the risk of dying of colon cancer is 7% in the United States, that the real cost of a single colonoscopy is $3,000 (Blue Cross data) and that just the screening for colorectal cancer in the U.S. alone is a $50 billion business.

Thumbnail image for money on plate_opt.jpgMy first question is this.  If the risk of dying of colon cancer was less than 1%, would we still have a $50 billion industry to screen for it? I think not. So, if the risk goes down, the business gets smaller. Now, studies have shown for many years that for peoples who eat mostly whole plants their entire lives, their risk of having cancer of any kind approaches zero. So what's wrong with this picture?

The problem is that the consumer is never told by our government or by our health care industry that colon cancer is nearly 100% preventable by consuming an optimal diet. Two of many examples: The Papua Highlanders of New Guinea and the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico survive on a diet of whole plants and suffer virtually NONE of the diseases that are so common in the western world; cancer, diabetes and heart disease. They also live a very long time. Typically, our health care professionals give diet and lifestyle changes lip service, saying that most patients would never adhere to such an extreme diet.

Bottom line. If you knew that your own odds of getting colon cancer was less than 1%, would you have the procedure? If you were told by your physician that you had it within your power to significantly lower your own odds -- telling you about the power of whole plants to prevent, arrest or possibly even reverse some cancers; would you consider making those extreme changes in your diet?

Granted, everyone wouldn’t switch to that optimal diet if told about it; but it seems fair that they should at least be told the truth so that they could have a choice. But that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

You see, roughly $2 trillion of our $2.7 trillion cost of health care in the U.S. depends on keeping us sick...otherwise, lots of people will be out of jobs. Do you think the insurance companies have an incentive for us to all become vibrantly healthy and disease-free? Not. Check out yesterday's post on that topic.

One more thing; the health-promoting diet is really not extreme at all, certainly compared to cancer treatments for the rest of your life. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day…

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

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