No scientific proof of medical benefits, says minister The health minister yesterday dismissed the health claims associated with colon hydrotherapy and said the government would look into the possibility of regulating the practice. York Chow Yat-ngok also urged the public to be careful when opting for alternative therapies to avoid being duped. 'It [colon hydrotherapy] has no scientific proof [of the medical benefits] and poses a danger if it is not done properly,' he said. He was supported by a colorectal surgeon and the Consumer Council, which highlighted the case of a woman who had the treatment eight times last year and was later diagnosed with genital warts, although she claimed she had not had sex for two years. During the therapy, water flows into the colon through a tube inserted into the rectum. The waste in the colon is then excreted. Centres providing the therapy - at about HK$400 each session - claim it has medical benefits, including curing constipation, losing weight and even curing cancer. Do-it-yourself colon hydrotherapy equipment is also available. But the vice-president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, Chu Kin-wah, a colorectal surgeon, said there was no scientific proof of the medical benefits and it might even worsen a patient's condition if the person had heart, liver or kidney problems. 'These patients usually would have an excessive accumulation of water in their bodies,' he said. 'That would just make their bodies overloaded and worsen their condition.' Dr Chu also said the colon walls might be punctured if the therapist lacked training and experience. 'Even when it is done in a hospital by experienced practitioners with the aid of X-rays, there will be a problem occasionally and the wall will be punctured. So it is not safe to do it by yourself, especially when you can't get good control of the water's volume, pressure and speed.' He said it was unnecessary to have therapy to rid the body of waste because the colon would do the job itself. The Consumer Council's public and community relations committee vice-chairman, Ching Pak-chung, said there had been one complaint a year about the therapy since 2004. 'The number might be small but we want to raise the public's awareness on the issue, and hope the government will also pay attention to it,' he said. Professor Ching said the council had already referred some advertisements for the therapy with misleading claims to the government for follow-up. Dennis Yip, who tried the therapy a few months ago out of curiosity, said the water made his insides swell and he did not feel any benefits later. 'I don't think I want to try it again.'