Ways to fight against intestinal cancer
If you have intestinal cancer or are close to someone who does, knowing what to expect can help you cope. Here you can find out all about intestinal cancer, including risk factors, symptoms, how it is found, and how it is treated.
Intestinal cancer is a rare disease where cells in the tissue of the small intestine change. They grow out of control and can form a mass, or tumor. Intestinal Cancer is also called: Duodenal cancer, Ileal cancer, Jejunal cancer, Small intestine cancer.
What causes intestinal cancer?
Several things can increase your chances of getting the disease:
– How old you are (average age at diagnosis is 60)
– Your sex (slightly higher risk in men)
– Genetics (some disorders you’re born with raising the odds)
– Smoking and alcohol use
– High-fat diet
– Living or working near large quantities of some chemicals, like phenoxy acetic acid
– Other conditions that affect your gut, like Crohn’s, colon cancer, or celiac disease
– Lymphedema (damage to the vessels that connect to the lymph nodes)
Intestinal cancer symptoms
The small intestine is a long, coiled tube that funnels digested food from the stomach into the colon (the large intestine). Along the way, the digested material is further broken down and nutrients and amino acids are absorbed.
The material first enters the duodenum, one of three sections of the small intestine where digestion is aided by enzymes secreted by the pancreas and bile from the liver. The middle section, the jejunum, propels the food into the ileum, the final and longest section food travels through before being emptied into the colon. Absorption of vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and nucleic acids happens as the food moves through the jejunum and ileum.
Tumors in the small intestine may block the flow of food and affect digestion. As the tumor gets bigger, the blockages may cause pain in the abdomen. A slowly bleeding tumor may lead to anemia. Digested blood may cause the stool to become black or tarry. An obstruction—when the flow of food is completely blocked—may cause intense pain, nausea and vomiting and typically requires immediate surgery.
Here are some common symptoms of intestinal cancer:
– Abdominal pain
– Unexplained weight loss
– Weakness or fatigue (sometimes a result of anemia)
– Bloody or tarry stools (from bleeding tumors)
– A noticeable lump in the abdomen
More on intestinal cancer symptoms
Abdominal pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting may be signs of an intestinal obstruction. In this case, you may require immediate medical attention. Often, surgery is necessary to remove the blockage. In rare cases, the tumor may cause a perforation in the intestinal wall, causing the contents to spill out into the abdominal cavity. This, too, will cause severe pain and vomiting.
Intestinal cancer symptoms may be signs of other conditions or gastrointestinal diseases. Often, however, small tumors may not cause any apparent symptoms. Sometimes cancer may be found by chance during another unrelated procedure or surgery.
5 Ways to prevent intestinal cancer
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Except for smoking, nothing else raises the overall risk of cancer more than being overweight. At least 11 different cancers have been linked to weight gain and obesity, including intestinal cancer.
An ideal goal is to weigh around what you did when you were 18 years old. Realistically, if you’ve put on weight, the first goal is to stop gaining weight, which has health benefits by itself. Then, for a bigger health boost, slowly work to lose some pounds.
2. Get screened. Getting regular screening tests for intestinal cancer is the single best way to protect yourself from the disease. It can catch cancer early, when it’s most treatable, and help prevent the disease by finding abnormal growths called polyps that can turn into cancer.
There are a number of effective screening tests for intestinal cancer. Some are easy to do but need to be done more often. Others are more involved but need to be done less often. Which test you have depends on your personal preferences and medical history. A doctor can help you decide.
3. Be Physically Active. It’s hard to beat regular activity. It lowers the risk of many serious diseases, including intestinal cancer, and provides a good mental boost. Any amount of physical activity is better than none, but it’s good to aim for around 30 minutes or more of moderate activity each day. Choose hobbies you enjoy, like brisk walking, cycling, dancing or gardening.
4. Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D. There is good evidence that getting enough calcium and vitamin D can help protect against intestinal cancer. Shoot for 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day of calcium and about 1,000 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D. Some groups recommend testing for vitamin D deficiency, especially in those with increased risk of low levels, such as those living in northern parts of the country as well as elderly people, very overweight people and people with darker skin.
5. Drink moderately and don’t smoke. Alcohol is a strange thing when it comes to health. It’s heart-healthy in moderation but can increase the risk of colon and other cancers at even low levels. So what does this mean? If you drink moderately (up to one drink per day for women, two per day for men), there’s likely no reason for you to stop. If you don’t drink, though, there’s no reason for you to start. Heavy drinkers should try to cut down or quit.
It hardly needs saying anymore, but not smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health. On top of raising the risk of serious diseases like heart disease, stroke, and emphysema, smoking is a major cause of at least 14 different cancers, including intestinal cancer. If you do smoke, quitting has real benefits, which start shortly after your last cigarette.
Foods that can help you fight against intestinal cancer
Preliminary studies suggest that garlic consumption may reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer, especially cancers of the gastrointestinal tract like intestinal cancer.
Protective effects from garlic may arise from its antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, halt the activation of cancer-causing substances, enhance repair, reduce cell proliferation, or induce cell death.
Garlic is high in the minerals sulfur and selenium as well as plant chemicals such as allicin and flavonoids, all known to be beneficial to health.
The deep, bright colors of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices contribute a wide variety of antioxidants to the diet.
Examples of antioxidant rich, deeply pigmented foods are blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates, carrots, apricots, cantaloupe, kale, broccoli, spinach, avocado, tomato, apples, red cabbage, red and purple grapes, pink grapefruit, turmeric, saffron, oregano, sage, and rosemary.
Include Omega 3 Oils and use olive oil. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory Omega 3 oils (EPA and DHA) decreases the incidence of intestinal cancer. Olive oil contains plant chemicals that have anti-cancer properties.
Omega 3 oils are found in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and cod as well as flax oil. Omega 3 oils decrease the levels of pro-inflammatory molecules that promote cancer. Because it is not always easy to get adequate levels of Omega 3 oils (EPA and DHA) in the modern diet, oral supplementation is a good alternative.
Olive oil reduces bile acid and increases enzymes that regulate cell turnover in the lining of the intestines promoting healthy tissue. Antioxidant compounds (phenolics) present in olive oil also exert a cancer-protective antioxidant effect.
Drink Ginseng Tea. Numerous studies have shown that several species of the prized longevity herb ginseng root decrease growth and proliferation of intestinal cancer cells, increase their demise (apoptosis), and act as a potent protective anti-oxidant against intestinal cancer.
Asian ginsengs (Panax ginseng, Panax Noto ginseng), as well as American ginseng (Panax quinquennium) all, exhibit these properties. Ginseng root is widely available in tea and extract form as a beverage tea. Under the guidance of a knowledgeable clinician, ginseng root has been traditionally used as an herbal medicine for a wide variety of applications.
Proper nutrition and diet are important in helping to prevent many diseases and intestinal cancer is no exception. In the fight against this disease, nutritional guidelines include eating less saturated fat and getting more nutrients from the food you eat rather than from supplements.