Filter Stories By

Guarding Your Gut: Preventing GERD and Esophageal Cancer

Those who suffer from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), know that it’s more than just an inconvenience; it’s a painful and life altering condition. GERD can also lead to serious complications, including esophageal cancer.

Understanding the importance of preventive measures is key to maintaining your digestive health.

“GERD can be caused by a hiatal hernia and a defective valve. This happens when a small portion of the stomach has moved up above the diaphragm,” said Dr. Phoenix Nguyen, director of therapeutic endoscopy at Hoag. “Minimally invasive surgery like endoscopic fundoplication (creation of a new valve at the bottom of the esophagus) with robotic hiatal hernia repair can fix the problem. There are also many lifestyle changes that can help patients reduce their risk of GERD and developing further complications.”

What steps can you take to guard your gut? Dr. Nguyen shares a few tips:

  1. Healthy Dietary Choices: Certain foods and beverages can trigger or exacerbate GERD symptoms. Limit your intake of spicy foods, acidic fruits, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and fatty or fried foods. Opt for smaller, more frequent meals rather than large, heavy ones, and avoid eating late at night.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Adopt a healthy diet and regular exercise routine to maintain a healthy weight, aiding digestion and reducing your risk of acid reflux. Patients at Hoag’s Digestive Health Institute also have access to a dietician who can create a personalized diet and exercise plan that suits your individual needs.
  3. Practice good Sleeping Habits: When sleeping, elevate the head of your bed to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
  4. Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Intake: Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, contributing to GERD. Quitting smoking is crucial for both preventing GERD and reducing the risk of esophageal cancer. Excessive alcohol can also aggravate GERD symptoms. Limit your alcohol intake and avoid consuming it close to bedtime.
  5. Schedule Regular Health Check-ups: Routine check-ups with your Hoag provider will help identify and manage GERD early on. Early diagnosis and treatment of GERD can help prevent complications like Barrett’s esophagus and reduce the risk of esophageal cancer. Be sure to also discuss your family history with your physician for a more personalized approach to prevention.

These proactive measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing GERD and its potential complications. Prioritize your digestive health today to enjoy a healthier tomorrow.

If you experience frequent or persistent symptoms of GERD, such as heartburn or difficulty swallowing, seek medical attention promptly. To learn more, visit