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03/06/12

  05:09:57 pm, by MedBen5   , 264 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Don't Lose Sleep Over Daylight Savings Time

If you’ve checked your calendar lately, you may be aware that we’re fast approaching one of the most dreaded days of the year. Sunday, March 11 heralds the return of daylight savings time – which means one less hour of precious slumber.

Nor are the irritations of “springing forward” limited to losing sleep and resetting the clocks. According to Aparajitha Verma, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, the average person needs about three or four days to adjust to the time change.

However, there are a few simple strategies minimize the impact to your internal clock. Verma suggests getting up an hour earlier and going to sleep an hour earlier. Take a nap in the afternoon on Sunday if needed, but not within a few hours of bedtime. Napping too close to bedtime can disrupt nighttime sleep.

An even better approach is to practice good “sleep hygiene” year-round, by following these tips (via Medical Xpress):

  • Sleep in a quiet and dark environment and set the thermostat at a slightly cooler temperature;
  • Don’t allow pets in the bed;
  • No reading, eating or watching TV in bed;
  • Don’t watch the clock;
  • Set a “wind down” time prior to going to bed;
  • Don’t take over the counter sleep aids and avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime, as these can disrupt sleep. Instead, try drinking warms teas or milk to increase your body temperature, which helps induce and sustain sleep;
  • Exercise is good for sleep, but not within two hours of going to sleep.

03/05/12

  05:19:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 222 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Study Suggests Many Stent Patients Aren't Told Options

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports that only 10% of coronary stent recipients are given information on alternative treatment options, based on a survey of nearly 500 Medicare patients.

The study – which, it should be noted, was based solely on the patient’s recollection of events – also found that only 19% of coronary stent recipients recalled discussing the drawbacks of the procedure, and only 16% recalled being asked their preferences for treatment type.

A coronary stent is a tube placed in the heart arteries to keep the vessels open. According to Reuters Health, stenting procedures cost the United States about $12 billion every year and up to half of the procedures are unnecessary.

At MedBen, we promote informed heart treatment through Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care Management. Provided through inVentiv Care Management, this clinically accountable solution focuses on cost-effective, safe, and integrated care management for patients affected by cardiovascular disease.

Care management does not and will not overrule the decisions of a patient’s physician. It merely works with the doctor to ensure that the patient is receiving the proper level of treatment, and that his or her care is eligible for coverage under your company’s health care plan.

For additional information about Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care Management and other Accountable Care Solutions available through MedBen, contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  03:32:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 175 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Federal Health Care Cost Estimate Raises Eyebrows

New presidential budget numbers that spike the estimated cost of government insurance subsidies has Republicans on Capitol Hill demanding an explanation, the Associated Press reports.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mi.) wants to know why revised budget numbers put the cost of helping individuals buy health coverage from state exchanges at $478 billion for the years 2014-2021 – about a 30% jump from last year’s budget estimate of $367 billion.

“This staggering increase … cannot be explained by legislative changes or new economic assumptions, and therefore must reflect substantial changes in underlying assumptions regarding … costs,” Camp wrote in a March 2 letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Administration officials claim the increase is due primarily to the effects of newly signed legislation that will raise the cost for one part of the Affordable Care Act, but still save money overall. “The estimates do not assume changes in what exchanges look like, the cost of insurance, or the number of Americans who will get their insurance in this new marketplace,” Treasury spokeswoman Sabrina Siddiqui said in a statement.

  12:52:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 183 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

To Improve Weight Loss Odds, Don't Be A Lone Wolf

If you’re really determined to lose weight, it may aid your cause to hook up with some like-minded people. A recent study suggests that a dedicated team effort helps participants shed at least 5% of their initial body weight, according to WebMD.

“People around us affect our health behaviors,” says researcher Tricia Leahey, PhD. “It could be quite beneficial if a bunch of friends that choose to lose weight make healthy food choices together, and hold each other accountable to those choices.”

Researchers followed a 12-week online weight loss competition in 2009, composed of teams with between 5 and 11 members. They found that people who lost who lost a significant amount of body weight tended to be on the same teams, motivating each other. “If someone is doing really well, it could influence the whole group,” Leahey says.

Noteworthy in the study was the “virtual” nature of the teams, with members getting together via the web. “Social support helps people to do better, and there are a variety of ways to accomplish it,” says Louis Aronne, MD, founder and director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program.

03/02/12

  04:55:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 264 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Overcoming Your Dental Anxiety

Does the thought of a dental exam make your teeth chatter? Chances are, your anticipation will far exceed the actual event. But if that knowledge does nothing to calm your fears, WebMD offers a few suggestions, which we summarize here (you can read detailed tips at their website):

  • Go to that first visit with someone you trust, such as a close relative who has no fear of dentists. If possible, have him or her sit with you during treatment.
  • Seek distraction while in the dentist’s chair. Listen to your own music on headphones – preferably something new, so you’ll pay more attention to it – or find a dentist with a TV or other distractions available in the treatment room.
  • Try controlled breathing to relax. Take a big breath, hold it, and let it out very slowly, like you are a leaky tire. This will slow your heartbeat and relax your muscles.
  • Review with your dentist which sedatives are available or appropriate. Options include local anesthetic, nitrous oxide ("laughing gas"), oral sedatives, and intravenous sedation.
  • If you can’t bring yourself to go to any dentist, consider seeing a psychologist first.

By the way, if you’re covered under a MedBen Dental plan, here’s something else to keep in mind: Members have complete freedom of provider choice, so there are no limitations as to which dentist you can use. If one doesn’t “cater to cowards” as advertised, you’re welcome to take your teeth elsewhere.

Employers who would like to know more about MedBen Dental can contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  04:19:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 201 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Graphic Images On Cigarette Packs Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

Unpleasant written warnings about the hazards of smoking will not be accompanied by even more unpleasant visual warnings. According to The Wall Street Journal Health Blog, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the federal requirement to place graphic images on cigarette packs is unconstitutional.

The Food and Drug Administration announced the requirement in 2010, with the hopes that by displaying diseased lungs, tracheotomy holes and other disturbing imagery on packages, smokers would think twice before reaching for a cigarette. R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies filed a lawsuit against the agency last August, claiming that the rule violated their First Amendment protections against government-compelled speech.

In his ruling, Leon said that the Obama administration failed “to convey any factual information supported by evidence about the actual health consequences of smoking through its use of these graphic images.” He added that the government could have used alternative means to promote an anti-smoking message, such as changing the images to provide actual information rather than simply evoke an emotional response.

In November, Leon had halted the FDA requirement from moving forward pending the outcome of the lawsuit. At the time, he noted that cigarette makers would likely succeed in their effort.

  01:09:24 pm, by MedBen5   , 273 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Out With The Old Health Rules, In With The New

Sometimes, its seems like the more we learn about better health, the less we know. New research can modify or even negate the wellness information that we’ve taken as gospel for years.

Leslie Goldman at Oprah.com recently examined four extablished health rules that no longer hold water – one, literally – and new rules to consider in their place. We’ve summarized them below.

Old Rule: Drink eight glasses of water a day. New Rule: Eat your water.
Much of your daily requirement of water is contained in foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and cooked whole grains like oatmeal. And they offer the added bonus of nutrients.

Old Rule: Eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables. New Rule: Fill half your plate with produce.
Put away the measuring tools, and just make half of every meal produce. And quality counts: Even two or three daily servings of deeply hued fruits and veggies (like blueberries or red peppers) may help reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.

Old Rule: Avoid red meat. New Rule: Beef in moderation can be healthy.
A recent study found that the cardiovascular risk of red meat comes from processed varieties, such as sausage, hot dogs, and cold cuts – not from steak and hamburgers. Three 4- to 5-ounce servings per week is a good source of iron and immunity-boosting zinc.

Old Rule: Keep your BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. New Rule: Eat healthy, exercise, and let your weight settle naturally.
Cirtics say body mass index ignores a person’s muscle mass and hip circumference. Instead of BMI, focus on eating a nutritious diet and logging 150 minutes of exercise per week.

03/01/12

  05:05:19 pm, by MedBen5   , 161 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Senate Votes Down Challenge To Birth Control Mandate

By a narrow 51-48 vote – mainly along party lines – the Senate rejected an amendment that would have exempted employers and insurers from covering contraceptive devices if it went against their moral beliefs, NPR reports.

Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, who sponsored the amendment, said it was meant to protect First Amendment rights. “The first freedom in the founding documents is freedom of religion,” he said.

Democrat Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said he found the amendment’s language vague, in that it appeared to give employers the right to opt out of any benefit to which they considered objectional. “Imagine that your boss is going to decide whether or not you’re acting morally,” he said.

In related news, a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most Americans also support the birth control mandate. While reponses were divided based on age and political affiliation (see chart below – click to enlarge), 63% overall said health plans should provide free contraceptives.

Support for Contraception Coverage
  04:04:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 218 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Study: Prescription Sleeping Pills May Increase Death Risk

A class of popular prescription sleeping pills may increase the user’s risk of death, according to a new study. WebMD reports that the pills in question, called hypnotics, include such popular drugs as Ambien, Lunesta and Resterol.

Using 2002-2007 data from a large Pennsylvania health system, researchers reviewed medical records for 10,529 people who were prescribed hypnotic sleeping pills and matched them with 23,676 patients who were never prescribed sleeping pills. They found that the top third of sleeping-pill users had over a five times higher dealth risk, as well as a 35% greater risk of cancer.

Hypnotic pills differ from other types of sleeping aids, in that they actually cause a person to fall asleep. By contrast, a supplement like melatonin promotes sleep through relaxation.

Sanofi-Aventis, the maker of Ambien, responded in a statement to WebMD: “Ambien has more than 17 years of real-world experience and is safe and effective when prescribed and taken according to its labeling.”

Also questioning the study’s validity is Nancy Collop, MD, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “You cannot assume, just because you find this kind of association, that hypnotics are killing people. People who go on sleeping pills are a sicker population. I know they tried to control for that, but these people simply are not as healthy,” she said to WebMD.

02/29/12

  05:15:08 pm, by MedBen5   , 248 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

House Subcommittee Votes To Repeal Medicare Cost Control Panel

Another provision of health care reform is in danger of getting the boot – but unlike the Supreme Court-bound individual mandate, this one is threatened by the legislative branch.

According to the Hill’s Healthwatch, the House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee today voted 17-5 in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act’s Independent Payment Advisory Board. The 15-member board can recommend provider payment cuts if Medicare costs grow faster than a targeted amount (Congress can overrule its suggestions with a supermajority, however).

All but two of the votes for repeal were by Republicans, who early on derided the IPAB as a “death panel” or “rationing board". Prior to the vote, Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) argued that the board would supplant lawmakers’ ability to run Medicare policy.

“[Supporters of IPAB] are not troubled by the fact that there is no requirement for public comment prior to IPAB issuing its recommendations,” Pitts said. “That IPAB’s actions are not subject to judicial review does not alarm them.”

Committee member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) countered that the board merely serves as a means to control Medicare health spending in Congress. “We all hope the IPAB will be irrelevant. If the Act works… it will be,” he said. “Let’s recognize today’s vote for what it is: an attempt to discredit the Affordable Care Act and embarrass the president.”

Earlier this week, the American Medical Association reiterated its support for appealing IPAB. You can also read more about that at the Healthwatch blog.

  01:16:32 pm, by MedBen5   , 195 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Requires Statin Labels To Warn Of Diabetes, Memory Risks

Makers of statins must revise their labels to warn about risks of elevated blood sugar levels – a cause of type 2 diabetes – and memory loss, HealthDay reports. The Food and Drug Administration made the announcement, but also stressed that the benefits of the cholesterol-lowering drugs far outweigh the potential dangers.

“We want health-care professionals and patients to have the most current information on the risks of statins, but also to assure them that these medications continue to provide an important health benefit of lowering cholesterol,” Dr. Mary Parks, director of the FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products, said in a news release. The agency made the change following recent clinical trials and isolated reports of side effects.

The full list of statins include: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Altoprev (lovastatin extended-release), Livalo (pitavastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin). Combination products include: Advicor (lovastatin/niacin extended-release), Simcor (simvastatin/niacin extended-release), and Vytorin (simvastatin/ezetimibe), the FDA said.

Statins are popularly precribed to patients who have high cholesterol or at risk for fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events. Healthy individuals with one or more cardiovascular risk factors can also benefit from the drug.

  12:37:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 204 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Women More Likely To Ignore Heart Attack Warnings

A recent study of over one million female patients revealed that women having heart attacks are less likely to seek immediate care than men, and more likely to die in the hospital.

USA Today reports that many women fail to take advantage of such treatments as clot-busting drugs, balloon procedures to open the arteries or bypass surgery. Consequently, 15% of female heart attack patients die in the hospital, compared with 10% of men. And that doesn’t take into account women who don’t make it to the hospital in the first place.

One thing working against females, especially younger ones, is that they appear less likely to suffer chest pain or pressure – 42% of the women studied didn’t experience this classic heart attack symptom, compared to 31% of men. But they may develop shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness and pain in the back or jaw, according to the American Heart Association. A sudden onset of fatigure may also be a warning sign.

Men and women alike should know their cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugarcardiologist, notes Nieca Goldberg, medical director of NYU Langone Medical Center’s Tisch Center for Women’s Health. “We should use this study as an eye-opening bit of news to these women,” she says.

02/27/12

  05:09:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: Prescription

Not Following Rx Prescriptions May Harm Patient -- And Others

Some patients fail to stick to the drug regimens prescribed by their doctors. Sometimes it’s due to cost considerations or sides effect, but it may also come down to simple forgetfulness.

Terrence Blaschke, MD, professor emeritus of medicine, has co-authored a review that documents the problems arising from the lack of proper adherence to medications. He spoke with Medical Xpress about how taking medications improperly can harm your health – and inadvertantly, the health of others as well.

Q: Can taking medication sporadically be just as bad for your health as not taking your medication at all?
Blaschke: Yes! In many infectious diseases (tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and even more common infections), partial adherence can promote the emergence of resistant organisms, which can be very difficult to treat. An important example is the contribution of partial adherence to the development of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis that may then be transmitted to other individuals. A similar concern has been well-documented for patients infected with HIV. There is also some suggestion that partial adherence with oral cancer drugs may also contribute to drug-resistant cancers.

You can read the rest of Blaschke’s Q&A at medicalxpress.com.

  11:27:58 am, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Flu Bug Hasn't Much Bite This Season

If it seems like less people around your office are taking sick days this year, it may be due to the fact that the flu bug has been hibernating. NPR’s Shots blog reports that in the 29 years since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking influenza, this is the slowest start to a flu season ever.

“Flu season usually kicks off in a big way in late December early January,” says the CDC’s Lyn Finelli. “It peaks at the end of February or the beginning of March and we usually have influenza around until May.”

Flu specialists are uncertain why the season has been so mild, but Finelli thinks that the warm winter may be a factor. “We know that influenza virus survives best in cool and dry conditions,” Finelli said. And when it’s cold outside, people tend to stay indoors, which raises the risk of coming in contact with someone who’s got the bug.

Also playing a part may be the fact that the main flu viruses this year have been around for a couple of years already, and people have built up an immunity.

Finally, 36% of Americans have gotten a flu shot, up from 32% last season. Vaccination “remains the most effective method to prevent influenza and its complications,” according to the CDC report.

  10:50:13 am, by MedBen5   , 201 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Poll Shows Strong Opposition To Individual Mandate

Is it possible that the Obama administration could strike the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act even it the Supreme Court finds the provision constitutional? If they’ve been tracking the mood of the nation lately, then it could very well happen.

According to a new Gallup poll, Americans are fairly split on if they would want a GOP president to repeal the entire health care reform law – 47% say yea, while 44% say nay. But on the specific issue of the individual mandate, 72% of Americans polled believe it to be unconstitutional.

Certainly, opinions differ greatly along party lines, with over 9 out of 10 Republicans opposing the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penlty. But even a majorty of Democrats (56%) diagree with the mandate as well.

A separate USA Today/Gallup poll also reveals opposition to the ACA in total, by voters in critical swing states. Over half of respondents consider the health care reforms “a bad thing", while 38% see it as a “good thing". The partisian divide is strong here as well – 87% of Republicans favor repeal of the health care overhaul, while 77% of Democrats oppose it.

Read more about the polls at Politico.com and USA Today.

02/24/12

  05:02:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 312 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

Prescription Drug Buying "Dos" and "Don'ts"

Despite the greater availabilty of inexpensive generic alternatives, prescription drugs are still an expensive proposition for many people. To help those of us for whom medication is a mainstay of the monthly budget, WebMD offers these “Dos” and “Don’ts” for cutting drug costs, which we summarize below:

DO…

  1. Do Ask About Generic Options. Almost 80% of FDA-approved drugs have generic alternatives that cost an average of four times less than the brand-name versions.
  2. Do Look Into Splitting Higher-Dose Pills. Many pills cost about the same even if they contain twice as much medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medication is safe for splitting.
  3. Do Talk Openly With Your Doctor. He or she may be able to find less expensive options.
  4. Do Shop Around. Pharmacy prices can vary, and you may be able to negotiate.
  5. Do Look Into Patient Assistance Programs. Many pharmaceutical companies have programs that provide their drugs at deep discounts or even free for people in need.

DON’T…

  1. Don’t Use a Friend’s Medicine Cabinet. A drug may be expired, may be the wrong dose, and may react with something else you’re taking.
  2. Don’t Insist on Brand Name Drugs. There’s probably a less expensive alternative to the drug advertised on TV.
  3. Don’t Assume Herbal Supplements Are Safe or Adequate. They’re not regulated like medications, and some could pose a real danger.
  4. Don’t Keep Switching Pharmacies. It undermines the checks and balances meant to protect your safety.
  5. Don’t Buy Drugs from “Rogue” Internet Pharmacies. Groups posing as legitimate pharmacies get away with selling fake drugs, expired drugs, or the wrong drug in the name of a buck.

Another useful “Do": Do check out RxEOB. This online service, available to many MedBen pharmacy plan members, allows patients learn about possible lower cost generic and therapeutic alternatives. Simply log in to the MedBen Access site and click on “My Rx”.

  12:38:42 pm, by MedBen5   , 201 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

A Peek At Why Health Spending Differs Geographically

Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog in The Washington Post posted an interesting chart recently, one which offers some insight into the reasons behind differences in health care costs from one region to another.

Sources of Health Care Spending Variations Across Autoworker Communities, 2009

The chart, which is based on research from the National Institute for Health Care Reform, breaks down health care spending variations by American autoworkers employed by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. The data represents over one million people who receive health care benefits at 19 different sites across the country.

The researchers found a wide variance in spending, from $4,500 per worker in Buffalo, N.Y. to $9,000 in Chicago. The majority of the variation (37%) was due to difference in health status: the unhealthier the worker population, the higher the spending.

Differences in how much providers charged for the same service also had a considerable impact (33%) on spending variations. “In the lowest-price communities – Syracuse and St. Louis – the autoworker prices are 30% above Medicare,” the researchers noted. “In the highest-price community – Lake County – the autoworker price is more than two-and-half times the Medicare price.”

Excess use of health care and difference in age and sex together accounted for 28% of spending, while differences in providers’ business costs made up the balance.

  11:32:36 am, by MedBen5   , 239 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Desserts At Breakfast Can Help Dieters, Researchers Say

Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, it may also be the best opportunity for dieters to lose weight… and you can have ice cream if you want. At least, that’s the conclusion of a study by Tel Aviv University.

According to Medical Xpress, researchers found that by adding dessert – such as cake, cookies or chocolate – to a balanced breakfast, dieters will lose more weight, and keep it off in the long run.

For the 32-week study, 193 clinically obese, non-diabetic adults were randomly assigned to one of two groups and given diets with similar caloric intake (1,600 daily calories for men, 1,400 for women). But the first group had to stick to a diet low in carbohydrates, while the second was given a breakfast high in carbs and protein, and allowed a dessert item.

After 16 weeks, both groups had lost an average of 33 lbs. per person. But in the second half of the study, the low-carb group regained an average of 22 lbs. per person, while the dessert group lost another 15 lbs. each.

The authors of the study say that because the body’s metabolism is at its most active in the morning, it’s better to indulge during breakfast. That gives the body extra time to work off calories throughout the day. Further, by allowing yourself a daily treat, you remove the craving that often accompanies diet deprivation, which means you’re more likely to stay the course.

02/23/12

  05:09:21 pm, by MedBen5   , 210 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Anti-fraud Efforts Net Record Returns

The perpetrators of health care wrongdoing have undoubtedly been sleeping a lot less easy of late. In fiscal 2011 alone, the federal government recovered $4.1 billion in fraudulent health care payments – the largest amount ever collected in a single year, according to federal officials.

MedPage Today reports that between 2009 and 2011, enhanced efforts to combat fraud resulted in a 50% increase in judgments and settlements of payments fraudulently obtained from Medicare and Medicaid. Last year, criminal charges were filed against 1,430 defendants for fraud-related crimes, 743 of whom were convicted.

The Affordable Care Act has earmarked $350 million to fight health care fraud. Common cases include durable medical equipment fraud; illegal marketing of medical devices or drugs for uses not approved by the FDA, including unlawful pricing by drugmakers; and violations of self-referral and anti-kickback laws.

At MedBen, we share a similar dedication to protecting clients against fraud (with a slightly smaller budget, of course). Our Anti-Fraud Unit reviews questionable claims, and other related information, to help conserve plan assets. We also belong to associations formed to share information regarding possible fraudulent activities, and the data we obtain from them is compared against our claims detail daily.

For additional information on how MedBen’s anti-fraud efforts, contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at (888) 627-8683.

  04:25:20 pm, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Colonoscopy Cuts Risk Of Colon Cancer Death By Half: Study

Direct on the heels of yesterday’s mammogram news comes a report that says colonoscopies can reduce the risk of dying from colon cancer by half. It marks the first time a major study has offered clear evidence of the usefulness of such screenings, according to the Associated Press.

Researchers at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York tracked 2,602 patients who had precancerous growths removed during colonoscopies for an average of 15 years. They found that 12 patients in the study group died from colon cancer – 53% less than the 25 estimated deaths that would be expected among a similar group in the general population.

A second study in Europe revealed that colonoscopies are more effective at finding polyps than tests that look for blood in stool, another popular (and far less expensive) screening technique.

The American Cancer Society says that deaths for colorectal cancer have decreased for more than two decades, primarily due to colonoscopies and other screening tests. But only about half of Americans who should get screened actually do – likely in part because of the somewhat unpleasant preparation required. The organization is hopeful that the studies will help more people realize that the benefits outweigh any discomfort.

MedBen follows ACS guidelines, which recommend that people with an average risk of developing colon cancer get screened starting at age 50.

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