Actor Ryan Reynolds has become an unexpected spokesman for colorectal cancer prevention after he underwent a colonoscopy as penalty for losing a bet — and the doctor found a polyp in the 45-year-old actor’s large intestine.

Reynolds lost the bet but may actually have won big.

“This was potentially lifesaving for you,” Dr. Jonathan LaPook said in a video Reynolds shared after the procedure. “I’m not kidding. I’m not being overly dramatic.”

While the colonoscopy started out as a joke for the actor — he lost when he bet his pal and fellow actor Rob McElhenney that he wouldn’t be able to learn to speak Welsh fluently — the 30-minute procedure is a powerful hedge against what the American Cancer Society has called the No. 3 cancer in terms of how common it is. The risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 106,180 new chances of colon cancer and 44,850 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2022.

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The two men shared a video of their colonoscopies to help Colorectal Cancer Alliance and Lead from Behind promote the potentially lifesaving benefits.

According to USA Today, “LaPook discovered an ‘extremely subtle’ polyp on the right side of his colon. The removal interrupted ‘a process that could have ended up developing it to cancer and causing all sorts of problems.’”

McElhenney also reportedly had small polyps removed.

Reynolds posted the video on his Instagram page.

About colonoscopy

Patients typically sleep through a colonoscopy, in which a tiny camera is inserted into the colon through the rectum to look for polyps and suspicious growths. It takes about a half-hour, plus a little time in recovery as the sedation wears off. If a polyp is found, it’s typically removed during the procedure.

According to the most recent guidelines from the American Cancer Society, most people can start being screened at age 45. Those with a family history of colon cancer should start earlier, at age 40. The same is true for those with inflammatory bowel disease.

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In a news release on the Lead from Behind awareness campaign, Reynolds said, “The procedure and prep were 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 stigmatized.”

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

Per Today, “In announcing the new initiative, Lead From Behind noted that colon cancer is growing among younger people and may become the No. 1 fatal cancer among people under 50 by 2030.”