Colonoscopy sweepstakes takes the cake

I’ve seen some stupid stunts throughout my medical career. But this latest one may take the cake. Last month, I came across something called the “CBS Cares Colonoscopy Sweepstakes.”

The “lucky” winner gets a free trip to New York City. Free hotel accommodations. And a free colonoscopy at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

They’ll wine and dine you the night before your procedure. But wait–you can’t eat anything after a certain hour. So maybe you’ll opt for a tour of the city instead. Although you certainly won’t want to be more than a dash away from a restroom once you’ve downed the requisite laxatives. Okay, so you can just sit back, relax, and prep for the test in the comfort of your hotel room, right? Of course, if you’ve ever stayed in New York City, you know how utterly impossible it can be to get comfortable–let alone relax–in a shoebox-sized room, with sirens wailing past at all hours.

I’d love to know how many CBS viewers signed up for this crazy gimmick. Actually, I’m afraid to know….

It seems they are trying to get the whole country enamored with colonoscopies. And I guess we can thank former CBS News “anchor” Katie Couric, at least in part, for starting this ridiculous state of affairs.

Plus, the statistics look better than ever. In fact, last month the American Cancer Society published data showing that deaths from colon cancer dropped 3 percent a year from 2001 to 2010. Of course, they largely credit increases in early screening for the reduction in death rates. They incorrectly assume that colonoscopies are the only and best option for early screening and the primary reason for the reduction in death rates.

Now, here’s the issue…

I’m not saying that colonoscopies don’t help prevent colon cancer. Or that they can’t catch some pre-cancers in early stages (On average, very early, since it takes 15 years to develop actual cancer.) Or that they don’t save lives. It’s just that you have much SAFER screening options. And they’re less expensive too.

Tragically, no one is discussing and certainly not promoting these alternatives.

But I will. No matter how “unpopular” my argument. Because I believe you should know the facts. And the fact is, colonoscopies carry some very real hidden dangers.

In my forensic medicine practice, I have seen case after case of fatal complications following “routine” colonoscopies. Patients have died of perforated intestines. They died of inflammation to the abdominal cavity (peritonitis). They have even died of lacerated and punctured livers along with massive bleeding and shock.

Ten to 15 years ago, doctors performed colonoscopies in their offices. And only on patients at higher risk for colon cancer. Or on patients with intestinal bleeding (prior to the colonoscopy).

Today, most medical practitioners pick colonoscopy, the most expensive and dangerous option, without any scientific data to support it. In fact, no study has shown that colonoscopy prevents colon cancer incidence or mortality any better than other, safer screening methods.

But colonoscopy is now a big business. According to a recent New York Times article, colonoscopy is even the primary reason why the U.S. leads the world in health expenditures.

In the U.S., most colonoscopies cost about $1,200. But many doctors get away with charging up to $20,000 for this outpatient procedure that requires less than one hour of their time.

No wonder you need to win a sweepstakes to afford one.

To learn more about the safe alternatives to colonoscopy, refer to my powerful newsletter expose called The hidden, grisly dangers of routine colonoscopy. You’ll find it the September 2013 issue of Insiders’ Cures. Make sure you are logged in as a subscriber. Subscribers have free access to all my archived articles.

Plus, in an upcoming issue, I will tell you even more about what is really going on with colon cancer.

If you’re not yet a subscriber to my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, now’s the perfect time to get started. The sooner you learn about your other options, the better.

In the words of the former, great CBS Evening News anchor, Walter Cronkhite,

“And that’s the way it is.”