Esophageal Cancer

The UK National Health Service states that: “Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer affecting the food pipe (esophagus), the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. It mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s, and is more common in men than women.”

The American Cancer Society says: “We do not yet know exactly what causes most esophageal cancers. However, there are certain risk factors that make getting esophageal cancer more likely. Scientists believe that some risk factors, such as the use of tobacco or alcohol, may cause esophageal cancer by damaging the DNA in cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Long-term irritation of the lining of the esophagus” for example as happens with reflux “may also lead to DNA damage.”

How to avoid it?

The NHS says: “The exact cause of esophageal cancer is unknown, but the following things can increase your risk:
• persistent acid reflux (gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD)
• smoking
• drinking too much alcohol over many years
• being overweight
• having an unhealthy diet that’s low in fruit and vegetables
Stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, losing weight and having a healthy diet may help reduce your risk of developing esophageal cancer.”

The ACS similarly says that “Not all esophageal cancers can be prevented, but the risk of developing this disease can be greatly reduced by avoiding certain risk factors.” In particular:
• Avoiding tobacco and alcohol. In the United States, they are the most important lifestyle risk factors for cancer of the esophagus.
• Watching your diet and body weight. Obesity has been linked with esophageal cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help protect against esophageal cancer.
• Getting treated for reflux.

In “How Not to Die”, Dr. Greger particularly focuses on diet. He notes that “acid reflux, which can lead to a precancerous condition, is associated with consumption of animal fats, which cause the sphincter at top of stomach to relax. The most protective foods are red, orange and dark-green leafy veg, berries, apples, and citrus fruits. Fiber intake appears to reduce the risk of reflux and esophageal cancer.”
He notes that although fiber has many benefits for the body (including for example flushing away toxins like lead and mercury), “only 3% of Americans reach the recommended minimum daily intake of fiber.”

Sources

NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/oesophageal-cancer/

American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/esophagus-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html

Link to my post on “How Not to Die

Link to my post on “Cancer

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