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Ice Craving Signaled Cancer

Ice Craving Signaled Cancer

Q. In 2001 I had a very strong urge to chew on ice. After reading in your column that this could be a sign of anemia, I told my doctor about it. The blood work showed anemia and I was advised to get a colonoscopy. This test showed cancer in the colon.

I had surgery and received six months of chemo. The operation removed 10 inches of my colon. Testing the lymph nodes showed the cancer had spread to three out of 15 tested.

I wouldn’t have mentioned the craving for ice cubes had I not read about it in your column. I thank you for that timely article. I have been cancer free for these past seven years.

A. Unexplained cravings for ice, laundry starch, cornstarch or other peculiar substances often signal a deficiency of iron or zinc and should be investigated. We are pleased your doctor took your anemia seriously and looked for the cause. The colonoscopy and subsequent treatment of the cancer may have saved your life.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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