HEALTHBEAT 4: Experts say there may be a link between obesity & - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

HEALTHBEAT 4: Experts say there may be a link between obesity & colon cancer


March is Colon Cancer Awareness month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. Doctors said there may be a connection to the number of colon cancer patients and the number of Americans dealing with obesity.

"Patients who are obese the concern is diabetes, vascular disease. Not many people think of the increased risk or at least the possible increased risk of colon cancer," said Dr. Michalak, a gastroenterologist with Mercy Medical Center.

Someone who suffers from obesity has a BMI, or body mass index, of 30 or higher. A healthy range is from 18.5 to 25.

Dr. Jeff Michalak is a gastroenterologist at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City. He said the average person with a healthy BMI has a 5 percent chance of developing colon cancer in their lifetime. However, the more weight you gain, the higher your BMI and the higher your chance of developing cancerous polyps in your colon.

"Four percent increased risk in colon and rectal cancer in males. And about a nine percent increase in females. These patients have an increased risk of mortality even from colon cancer," said Dr. Michalak.

One way doctors can check your colon for cancer is through a medical screening called a colonoscopy.

"We've actually seen an increase in the number of colonoscopies, which over the last couple of years has shown a slight decrease in colorectal cancer," said Dr. Michalak.

However, Michalak said when it comes to this procedure there's concerns about performing it on obese patients.

"Do we have the facilities to support patients who are obese. With respect to how much does the bed hold and then are we able to get patients in in order to do this," said Dr. Michalak.

For obese patients trying to lower the risk of colon cancer, Michalak suggests modifying your lifestyle.

"Diet, exercise and weight loss," said Dr. Michalak. "I would recommend seeing a nutritionist."

Dr. Michalak said the average person should have a colonoscopy or some sort of colorectal cancer screening by the age of 50. However, if you have other risk factors like a family history or if you're overweight, your doctor might recommend the test be done before then.

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