Preventing Gastrointestinal Cancers

The gastrointestinal tract has three more common sites of cancer which can be easily prevented, so long as you know how. From top to bottom,  the esophagus, liver and colon are areas where prevention involves your diet and lifestyle choices among a few other steps that can be taken that will both reduce risks,  improve your current health and how you’re feeling.

Starting with the esophagus (your throat), the most common causes of cancer here are GERD (aka heartburn or acid reflux), alcohol consumption and smoking. Each of these irritants to the esophagus will dramatically increase the risk of developing cancer over your lifetime. Basic and straightforward advice here is to reduce alcohol consumption and quit smoking. The other big factor here is to take GERD seriously, don’t try to just put up with heartburn/reflux that’s happening more than a few times per month (or at all, really) – take the time to address the cause. GERD is something we work with quite often and you’d be surprised how well it can be corrected without medications. Some common approaches we take are testing food sensitivities, looking for any imbalances of intestinal bacteria and microbes and specific dietary changes. If you’re concerned about GERD or esophageal cancer, prevention starts yesterday.

Liver cancer is very serious when it occurs and there are quite a few causes ranging from chronic infections, excessive alcohol consumption, diabetes, aflatoxin (a product of certain species of mold) exposure and fatty liver. Good news, each and every one of these can be addressed and cancer risk dramatically decreased.

Alcohol and aflatoxins are as simple as reducing and avoiding sources (the most common aflatoxin source is peanuts) will cut the risk from these causes completely. Addressing diabetes and fatty liver risk take the same approach as fatty liver often occurs before diabetes – through diet, lifestyle and more individualized treatments based on lab values and specific nutritional deficiencies there can be major improvements in how you feel and a decrease in liver cancer risk. The final cause, chronic liver infections, can be supported too though these will be more difficult cases dramatic improvements can be made through liver supportive options of diet, herbs, IV and nutritional support.

Colon cancer risks are similar to esophageal and liver – smoking, alcohol, obesity, diabetes and high fat/low fiber diets are some of the big causes. Again, if you don’t already know that smoking and alcohol are harmful to your health, stop smoking and minimize alcohol intake. Obesity, diabetes and an inflammatory diet almost always go hand in hand. By making changes to improve weight and blood sugars you will also be reducing your risk of colon cancer. One of the major known factors is to increase fiber – which is done through increasing the amount of whole plant foods, specifically veggies. There are also common nutritional deficiencies we often find on testing that contribute to problems in the GI tract which lead to inflammation and higher cancer risks.

If any of these cancer risks are something you know you’re dealing with – whether GERD, weight, diabetes or otherwise we can help, give our office a call  at 916.351.9355.