Entries in Esophageal Cancer (3)


Reports of Acid Reflux Symptoms Double, Study Finds

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly 20 percent of Americans live with acid reflux, according to the National Institutes of Health. But now one of the largest studies to look at the prevalence of acid reflux found that nearly 50 percent more people experience it today than a decade ago.

The study, published in the journal Gut, followed more than 30,000 people in Norway for 11 years. At the start of the study, nearly 12 percent of those surveyed said they experienced acid reflux symptoms at least one a week.

Researchers saw a 47 percent increase in those who reported weekly acid reflux symptoms by the end of the study. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the throat and chest, also known as heartburn. Consuming acidic or fried and fatty foods can bring it on.

While the study does not mention why acid reflux is on the rise, the researchers suggest that the increasing numbers may be linked to a rise in obesity rates.

"The interabdominal pressure that goes along with being obese allows for more reflux," said Dr. Gerard Mullin, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in the Gut study. "It does seem like it's paralleling the prevalence of obesity."

Cigarette smoking and stress can also lead to acid reflux, Mullin said.

And the risk of developing acid reflux increases with age, especially for women. Women older than 60 reported feeling symptoms of acid reflux nearly 6 percent more than younger women, according to the study.

The researchers speculated that this may be because hormone replacement medications can raise a woman's risk of developing acid reflux.

Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, are often the first-line of treatment recommended by doctors to kick the reflux.

Over-the-counter acid blocker medications are arguably the most popular method for keeping acid reflux at bay. Around 98 percent of those with severe acid reflux and about 31 percent of those with more mild cases reported taking medication, according to the study.

But long-term acid suppression can lead to thinning bones and gastrointestinal infections, said Mullin.

Long-term acid reflux that's left untreated can lead to esophageal cancer. While esophageal cancer rates have decreased over the past decade, the American Cancer Society estimates that 17,000 new cases of esophageal cancer were diagnosed in 2011, and nearly 15,000 Americans died of the disease.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Reports of Frequent Heartburn Double, Study Finds

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(OSLO, Norway) -- For many, the rich food, abundant alcohol, weight gain and stress of the holidays likely lead to one thing: heartburn.  But new research finds that an increasing number of people struggle with the burning and pressure of surging stomach acid all year long.

A new study reports that the number of people who frequently experience symptoms of heartburn, also called acid reflux, has almost doubled in the past decade.  Acid reflux can mean more than just discomfort -- too much surging stomach acid can create a web of scars in the esophagus, causing food to get stuck on its way down.  Research also has connected acid reflux with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, particularly if it is chronic and untreated.

Researchers in Norway followed a group of nearly 30,000 Norwegians from 1995 until 2009, tracking their responses to a national health survey.  They found that the number of people reporting symptoms of acid reflux at least once a week ballooned from 31 percent at the study's beginning to 40 percent by the end, an increase of 30 percent.  Responders reporting severe acid reflux rose by 24 percent, from 5 percent in 1995 to nearly 7 percent in 2009.

Women seemed to be more affected by the disease than men, and acid reflux became more common in people of both sexes as they crept toward middle age.

"For these people, their quality of life is majorly affected," said study author Dr. Eivind Ness-Jensen, a gastroenterologist at Levanger Hospital in Norway.  "Maybe more alarming is that the symptoms are associated with esophageal cancer."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Can Strawberries Be Used to Treat Esophageal Cancer?

BananaStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- A new study suggests that strawberries could be an acceptable treatment for esophageal cancer.

The esophagus carries food and drink from the mouth to the stomach.  Cancer of the esophagus is one of the more common gastrointestinal cancers.

Research presented to the American Association of Cancer Research says freeze-dried strawberries may be an alternative to drugs for prevention of esophageal cancer.

Participants with pre-cancerous lesions of the esophagus consumed 60 grams of freeze-dried strawberries every day for six months.

The freeze-drying was crucial because removing water concentrates the fruit's cancer-preventative properties almost ten-fold.

Results showed 29 our of 36 participants had a decrease in the severity of pre-cancerous lesions.

The study authors concluded that frozen strawberries may slow down the progression of cancer of the esophagus.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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