Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention Measures

Over the years, researchers have been able to identify multiple factors that can impact one’s risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer. Some of these factors are modifiable, while others are not. Having these risk factors does not guarantee a GI cancer diagnosis; however, it only increases one’s chance of developing it.

It is possible to reduce the risk of GI cancer by following certain preventive measures, which often involve adopting specific lifestyle modifications.

Common Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Factors

Some of the most common gastrointestinal cancer risk factors include:

How to Prevent Gastrointestinal Cancer

Some of the measures to prevent gastrointestinal cancer are:

Who is at High Risk of Gastrointestinal Cancer?

Several factors increase the risk of gastrointestinal cancer. These GI cancer risk factors include older age, underlying conditions such as obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, genetic syndromes, family history of cancer, medical history, poor and unhealthy diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.


The exact cause of gastrointestinal cancer remains unknown. However, certain GI cancer risk factors include age, gender, an unhealthy lifestyle, smoking and drinking alcohol, chronic inflammatory conditions, and a poor diet. Measures to prevent gastrointestinal cancer include having a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and opting for regular screening.

Frequently Asked Questions

Excessive alcohol consumption produces acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde has a local toxic effect on the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. Reducing alcohol consumption reduces GI cancer risk.

HPV infection increases the risk of gastrointestinal cancer, especially esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, and anal cancer. Vaccination against HPV may help reduce the risk of the mentioned GI cancer types.

As the exact cause and mechanism of gastrointestinal cancer remain unknown, it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of GI cancer.

Foods high in salt and spices increase the risk of gastric cancer. Frequent consumption of very hot beverages increases the risk of esophageal cancer. Consumption of red and processed meat increases colorectal cancer risk.

Certain observational studies have reported that consuming dairy products, such as milk, increases the risk of gastric cancer. However, this increased risk was non-significant. In some studies, it is also reported that dairy products reduce the risk of colon cancer.