Ryan Reynolds has a colonoscopy on camera to destigmatize the procedure

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are hoping to kick colon cancer’s butt.

The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk for colon cancer begin regular screening at age 45. To raise awareness, the duo has teamed up with Lead From Behind, a new initiative helping spread the message that colon cancer is “the preventable cancer.”

Reynolds and McElhenney, co-chairs of Welsh football club Wrexham AFC, said in a video released on Tuesday that the decision to film their proceedings was because Reynolds lost a bet.

The duo had bet McElhenney would not be able to learn Welsh. Apparently, Reynolds was so sure he wouldn’t, he said he would “publicly broadcast his colonoscopy” if McElhenney could prove him wrong. It turns out he lost the bet. But since McElhenney is a good sport, he decided to film his colonoscopy as well.

“I was often in front of the camera. But that was the first time I’ve had one shoved up my ass,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The process and preparation was painless, but the discomfort of filming and sharing the process was the hardest part. Rob and I did it because we want this potentially life-saving procedure to be less mysterious and less stigmatized.”

“Ryan and I both turned 45 this year and that’s just a rite of passage,” McElhenney added, “and a great one because it can literally save your life.” It’s obviously a procedure that makes people uncomfortable, but it sure is better than getting cancer. We wanted to have fun with it, because like all the weird things that happen in life, why not make it funny instead of scary?”

Both hope the video conveys the importance of a colonoscopy.

“Normally I would never put a medical procedure on camera and then have it shared,” Reynolds says in the video as he walks into the hospital. “You can’t raise awareness every day about something that will definitely save lives. That’s enough motivation for me to let you in on a camera that’s going to be shoved up my ass.”

A doctor eventually removed an extremely subtle polyp on the right side of Reynolds’ colon, which the doctor described as “potentially life-saving.” A doctor also removed three small polyps from McElhenney’s colon.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, colon cancer is one of the leading causes of death from cancer in the United States, and colon cancer rates are higher in minorities.

Colon cancer could be the leading cause of cancer-related death among adults under 50 by 2030, according to the Colon Cancer Coalition.

Thanks to the 2021 policy change that lowered the age for a first colonoscopy from 50 to 45, 20 million more Americans are now eligible for a screening, Lead From Behind explains on its website.

Founded by tech entrepreneur and colon cancer survivor Brooks Bell, Lead From Behind is supported by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. Lead From Behind is the largest colon cancer nonprofit. His goal is to “make colon cancer famous”, inspire millions to get screened and save 100,000 lives.

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