Obesity Boosts Gullet Cancer Risk 6-Fold

Obese people are six times as likely to develop gullet (oesophageal) cancer as people of ‘healthy’ weight, shows research published ahead of print in the journal Gut.Rates of oesophageal cancer have been rising rapidly, and in some countries, they have risen faster than those of every other major cancer, say the authors.

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Obesity is directly linked to the esophagus deterioration, but it can be preventable. Esophageal cancer is related to the Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). High body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat increases the GERD symptoms.

If your body mass index is between 25 and 29.9, it is defined as being overweight. If it is 30 or higher, it is defined as obese.

How obesity affects esophagus?

GERD affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and causes injury to the esophagus due to the exposure to stomach acid. LES connects the esophagus with stomach and allows food to pass from mouth to stomach.

Gastro esophageal means combination of esophagus and stomach. Gastro esophageal reflux is the return of contents of stomach back up into the esophagus. It occurs when LES is weak or relaxes inappropriately allowing the contents of the stomach to flow back up into esophagus.

The GERD severity depends on LES dysfunction. When stomach acids are released back through the sphincter, it results in heartburn. The GERD develops in obese people due to the compression of stomach, excess weight and fluctuations in hormones.

When heartburn is not treated or prevented, esophageal cancer develops. Therefore, people suffering with overweight often develop esophageal cancer.

GERD can be controlled and treated through modification of diet and medications. Beyond weight loss and medicines, obese people should discuss the treatment options.

Lifestyle changes help in controlling GERD that includes avoiding smoking, fatty foods, spicy foods, alcoholic beverages and citrus fruits and juices.

Decrease meal size and increase the number of times of taking meals. These lifestyle changes help in losing weight and also reduce the symptoms of gastro esophageal reflux disease.