Oesophageal Cancer

The National Health Service states that: “Oesophageal cancer is a type of cancer affecting the food pipe (oesophagus), 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 oesophageal cancers. However, there are certain risk factors that make getting oesophageal cancer more likely. Scientists believe that some risk factors, such as the use of tobacco or alcohol, may cause oesophageal cancer by damaging the DNA in cells that line the inside of the oesophagus. Long-term irritation of the lining of the oesophagus” for example as happens with reflux “may also lead to DNA damage.”

How to avoid it?

The NHS says: “The exact cause of oesophageal cancer is unknown, but the following things can increase your risk:
• persistent acid reflux (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD)
• 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 oesophageal cancer.”

The ACS similarly says that “Not all oesophageal 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 oesophagus.
• Watching your diet and body weight. Obesity has been linked with oesophageal cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help protect against oesophageal 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. Fibre intake appears to reduce the risk of reflux and oesophageal cancer.”
He notes that although fibre 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 fibre.”

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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