Are you a colonoscopy customer?

Not me; I just said NO—to this $60 billion business.

Last week, the New York Times published an article about the “major colonoscopy bills” that people are facing these days. In an article of well over one thousand words (See link below), there was not a single mention of how one might work on preventing cancer instead of detecting it.

The article began by describing the nightmare suffered by a couple in Long Island when they realized that their “insurance plan” didn’t cover the anesthesiologist’s bill of $1600. From the article:

Patients who undergo colonoscopy usually receive anesthesia of some sort in order to “sleep” through the procedure. But as one Long Island couple discovered recently, it can be a very expensive nap.

Both husband and wife selected gastroenterologists who participated in their insurance plan to perform their cancer screenings. But in both cases, the gastroenterologists chose full anesthesia with Propofol, a powerful drug that must be administered by an anesthesiologist, instead of moderate, or “conscious,” sedation that often gastroenterologists can administer themselves.

At the end of the article, readers were asked to hear about their own experience with colonoscopy. Here is what I posted beneath the article, the 700th comment posted:

While this procedure may be right for millions, I decided that it was not right for me.

My experience with colonoscopy? Nada. Now 67, I made the decision long ago to take a different approach when it came to taking care of my colon. I decided to work on lowering my risk of cancer instead of routinely submitting myself to an expensive, unpleasant and sometimes risky procedure of detecting the disease.

See my disclaimer under image>

According to my calculations, our annual colonoscopy bill in the United States is $60 billion. While doing research last year for our book, I learned that the risk of dying of colon cancer is 7% in the United States. So my question is this:

If the risk of dying of colon cancer was less than 1%, would we still have a $60 billion industry to screen for it? I think not.

It’s all about the risk. If the risk goes down, there is less need for screening, and the business gets smaller. How do we make the risk go down? We have known for many years about entire cultures of people who eat mostly whole plants their entire lives—and their risk of having cancer of any kind approaches zero.

With over 80% of my calories from whole plants, I believe that I have greatly lowered my risk of chronic disease.

So in 2002, I shifted to a diet whereby I derive over 80% of my daily calories from whole plants. In doing so, I believe that I have greatly lowered my risk of colon cancer and all other chronic diseases at the same time. Sadly, the average American gets less than 10% of their calories from foods that Nature intended for us to eat.

Risk of injury. There is one other risk that I should mention–the risk of suffering injury or even death as a result of the procedure. According to my research, this happens over 60,000 times per year (less than 1/2 of one percent) in the USA. Some of them report for the procedure perfectly healthy and leave the clinic with a perforated colon that must be repaired. And some never leave the clinic alive.

Money. But our medical system continues to focus on detection instead of true prevention. That would mean focusing on the causes, like our toxic diet, which Dr. T. Colin Campbell says is the leading cause of cancer in the USA. But there are 30 million jobs depending on us staying sick and not much money to be made if we all suddenly attained “vibrant health.” —-J. Morris Hicks

For your convenience, here are two of my earlier posts on this subject along with a link to the full NY Times article:

Want to lower your risk of all chronic disease, including all cancers? Then learn how to provide your body with natural protection by simply eating what nature intended for us to eat in the first place—whole plants.

Handy 3-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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3 Responses to Are you a colonoscopy customer?

  1. Sal Liggieri says:

    On my last visit to my primary care physician, he said, since I never had a colonoscopy I should get one. I asked him why? He said it is standard procedure for older people to detect colon cancer.

    I asked him why would I want to do this at age 86? His response: “Just as a precaution, in case you have polyps.”

    The fact that I have been eating only plant foods for over thirty years made no impact on him. He then gave me the standard medical response: ” Diet has nothing to do with colon cancer.” And so I left his office saying: “No colonoscopy, I will gamble against your advice.”

    If doctors don’t change their beliefs about diet, how do we expect the average patient to change his?

    As I see it in my pessimistic view, America will never make the change to a plant foods diet. Not now, not in a thousand years. I am very vocal about the McDougall diet and I have preached this diet for over thirty years. I have influenced only one person to change. One person in thirty years, now that is progress.

    Fast food restaurants, Pizza restaurants, Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, German restaurants, Mexican restaurants, it doesn’t matter, the result is the same: Fat . . . fat . . . fat!

    Who are we kidding?

  2. Jean Myers says:

    Since cancer can take years/decades to grow big enough to be detected and I ate meat and dairy for 34 years, I have chosen to do a very sensitive fecal occult blood test in lieu of a colonoscopy. If this test shows the presence of blood, then it may be prudent to follow up with further testing. This test is available through Dr. Fuhrman’s website here:

  3. Donna Brown says:

    Thank you for this article. I have been eating a whole food plant food diet for thirty years, (I was lucky to get a doctor who was ahead of his time and prescribed this diet for hemeroids.) Have been eating a whole food diet vegan diet for 12 years and recently have moved towards eating more raw foods, whith an emphasis on Omega 3 fatty acids and I feel the greatest I have ever felt my life. Last year I got into a 15 minute argument with my doc about a colonoscopy. I consider this such an evasive, brutal procedure. Ethically it bothers me that my insurance copy will throw $5000 at this procedure when I have clients (I work with poor and/or mentally ill clients) can’t even afford their very necessary medication. People tell me that my not having a colonoscopy will not help poor people get the treatment they needed. Maybe not, but we will never fix this broken health care system if the standard of care is a colonoscopy for everybody (with insurance) over fifity while poor people can’t even afford basic health care needs.


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