🔥In the last three decades, the incidence of ESOPHAGEAL CANCER has increased six-fold. This is because GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is on the rise. In the United States, we’re up to about 1 in 4 people suffering at least weekly HEARTBURN and/or acid regurgitation, compared to down around 5 percent in some parts of Asia. This suggests that dietary factors may play a role.
In general, HIGH FAT INTAKE is associated with increased risk, whereas HIGH FIBER FOODS appear to be protective. The reason fat intake may be associated with GERD symptoms and erosive esophagitis is because when we eat fatty foods, the sphincter at the top of the stomach that’s supposed to keep the food down becomes relaxed, so more acid can creep up into the esophagus.
In terms of later stages of disease progression, 45 studies have been published in the last twenty years associating diet and Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. In general, they found that MEAT and high-fat meals appeared to INCREASE CANCER RISK. Different meats were associated with cancers in different locations. RED MEAT was more associated with cancer in the esophagus, whereas POULTRY was more associated with cancer at the top of the stomach. BEANS AND NUTS were associated with a significantly decreased risk of cancer.
Those eating the most antioxidant rich foods have half the odds of esophageal cancer. The most protective produce may be red-orange vegetables, dark green leafies, berry juice, apples and citrus.
GERD is common and its burdens are enormous. It relapses frequently and can cause bleeding, strictures, and a deadly cancer. The mainstay of treatment is proton pump inhibitor drugs, which rake in BILLIONS of dollars annually. We spend $4 billion on Nexium alone, $3 billion on Prevacid, $2 billion on Protonix, $1 billion on Aciphex. These drugs can cause nutrient deficiencies and increase the risk for pneumonia, food poisoning, and bone fractures. Thus, it is important to find correctable risk factors, like obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption—and correct them.