Dr. Cynthia Quainoo: Addressing Healthcare Disparities in Gastroenterology and Hepatology


( ENSPIRE Health & Wellness ) Dr. Cynthia Quainoo: Advocating for Colon Cancer Screenings and Healthy Lifestyles

ENSPIRE Magazine had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Cynthia Quainoo, a passionate gastroenterologist and hepatologist based in Brooklyn, New York. As an immigrant from Ghana, Dr. Quainoo has dedicated her career to reversing healthcare disparities, particularly in the black and brown communities. In this enlightening conversation, she shares insights on her journey, the importance of colorectal cancer screenings, common myths about digestive problems, and tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Quainoo discovered her passion for hepatology, the study of liver diseases, during her residency and went on to complete her fellowship and subspecialty training in transplant hepatology. Intrigued by the hands-on nature of gastroenterology, she pursued further training in the field. Her passion grew as she witnessed the lack of awareness and education about colon cancer in her community, leading her to focus on raising awareness and addressing healthcare disparities.

She is passionate about educating communities on GI services. Dr. Quainoo highlights the intersection between gastrointestinal diseases and common health issues in the Black and Brown communities such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. She emphasizes that digestive diseases like fatty liver disease and colon cancer can be influenced by lifestyle factors. However, these connections are often overlooked, requiring increased education and awareness. Dr. Quainoo stresses the importance of addressing these issues within the community to improve overall health outcomes.

While talking about colon cancer, Dr. Quainoo dispels the myth that family history is the sole determinant of risk. She explains that a significant percentage of colon cancer cases occur without a family history. However, knowing one’s family history can drastically impact the recommended screening age. Dr. Quainoo shared with me a compelling story of a patient who was unaware of their family history until it was too late, underscoring the importance of discussing family medical history openly.

Dr. Quainoo talked to me about the common misconceptions about digestive problems, including myths surrounding colonoscopies. She highlighted how advancements in technology have made colonoscopies less invasive and more comfortable than before. Additionally, she clarifies that liver diseases are not solely caused by alcohol abuse, emphasizing the various factors such as viral hepatitis, medication-related inflammation, and autoimmune conditions.

To promote a healthy lifestyle, Dr. Quainoo emphasizes the importance of adopting a diet high in fiber and low in animal fat. Regular exercise, at least three to four days a week, plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and colon cancer. She also spoke about the impact of tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption on gastrointestinal and liver health. Dr. Quainoo encourages individuals to make small changes to their daily routines rather than relying on expensive gym memberships or trendy diets.

Dr. Quainoo acknowledges the challenges faced by underserved communities, such as food deserts, where access to fresh fruits and vegetables is limited. She calls for federal-level attention to address these issues. She also discussed with me the problematic aspects of marketing healthy lifestyles, cautioning against excessive consumerism. Dr. Quainoo emphasizes that leading a healthy lifestyle does not require expensive equipment or clothing, but rather a commitment to simple activities like walking, playing sports, and spending time with loved ones.

Screening recommendations and preventability are our best tools according to Dr. Quainoo. She concludes our interview by addressing the recommended age for initial screenings and the preventability of gastrointestinal diseases. While the age for screenings may vary depending on family history, she stresses that early detection through screenings can prevent the progression of diseases such as colon cancer.

Dr. Cynthia Quainoo’s dedication to reversing healthcare disparities and raising awareness about colon cancer screenings and preventative health services is truly inspiring. Through her passion and expertise, she is making a positive impact in the black and brown community, empowering individuals to take charge of their health and well-being. Her advocacy for a healthy lifestyle serves as a reminder that small changes can lead to significant improvements in overall health and longevity.

Related Articles: Endometriosis Awareness Month: Reproductive Healthcare Story from Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Dr. Bridget Cole Williams, Medical Cannabis Advocate and Expert