Contrary to my nickname “Niki the Nibbler”, I’m not ashamed to say I like to eat. I just don’t like feeling full and I really don’t like to have to buy new clothes because I’ve over indulged. I can certainly say that I’ve tried my fair share of diets…most unsuccessful or at best very short term success. The truth is eating healthy, not over indulging EVERY day and moderate exercise is the best way to live a happy and healthy life.
In recent years there has been a craze for colon cleansing (a more pleasant way of saying eliminating poop). If you’ve ever looked into it, there are a number of different “therapies” (colonics, enemas, oral supplements, etc.) that claim to remove toxins from the colon and intestinal tract by removing any accumulations of poop. It’s been touted as a safe way to rid your body of the bad stuff and you may lose some weight or at least feel less bloated. Based on how colon cleansing has been positioned, many truly believe that it’s a way to enhance your well-being. The truth is you may be doing more harm than good including increasing your risk of contracting blood borne infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B or C.
Without getting into the nitty gritty of infection transmission, we likely all recall our high school health classes on sexually transmitted diseases. One such way is of course contact between mucous membranes (such as the anus, colon etc) and infected body fluids. Because of the idea that “Colon Cleansing” has health benefits, it’s not that hard to find a place to go. BUT, did you know that these places are not regulated? By regulated, I mean that they do not have a college or regulating body to dictate what infection prevention and control measures need to be put in place to ensure infections are not transmitted? This means they also generally fly under the radar of Public Health and are not subject to the same audits restaurants, spas, salons or tattoo parlors are!
You may be asking, why this topic? Well, a Public Health Unit in Ontario investigated two locations after receiving complaints from the public. It was found that the cleaning agents being used in at least one of the cases would have been completely inadequate to eliminate hepatitis C, hepatitis B, or HIV should they be present on the instruments used to perform the colonics. The long and the short is that there would be quite a significant risk for transmission of infectious diseases. While there have not been any confirmed cases of disease transmission, the two locations have been closed and anyone who used their services are being advised to undergo testing.
If you think this is an isolated incidence, think again. As far back as 1978 there have been outbreaks associated with colonics including 36 cases of amebiasis in western Colorado. According to the Mayo Clinic, bacterial infections are possible with colon cleansing if the equipment is contaminated. Their advice is to make sure that the equipment is disposable, sterile and has never been used before. I would happen to agree to that particularly if there is no regulation, no clear infection control guidelines to be followed and auditing of facilities is not necessarily completed by Public Health. My hopes however, is this recent situation will put these facilities under some scrutiny as the procedure is definitely a risk for infection transmission.
You can be assured, I will be keeping to my healthy eating and moderate exercise regime!