According to a new study of 5 million people aged 45 to 64, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer have increased significantly in recent years—and researchers don’t know why. The esophageal cancer rates have nearly doubled, whereas Barrett’s esophagus has gone up by 50%.
1 — What Role Can Better Screening Play?
Researchers are certain that the increase in esophageal cancer incidence can’t be attributed only to improved screening. “This rapid rise in frequency should concern physicians, and we should start considering more middle-aged individuals for esophageal cancer screening if they are at greater risk,” adds Bashar J. Qumseya.“We should always consider whether this is merely because of better screening or if it indicates that the disease is becoming more prevalent. It was due to the latter in our research.”
2 — Esophageal Cancer and Smoking
According to a recent study, smokers are twice as likely to get esophageal cancer as non-smokers. “Around half of these cases worldwide are attributed to smoking, whereas the vast majority of cases in the country are linked to smoking,” Moshim Kukar, MD, says. “Active smoking is a predictor of poor outcomes. If a person has been smoking for more than five years, his or her risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is higher. Researchers believe that quitting smoking reduces the risk of esophageal squamous cell cancer by up to 80%. Individuals who have quit smoking for 20 years or longer had a 90 percent reduced chance of developing the disease.”
3 — Esophageal Cancer and Drinking
Experts warn that drinking alcohol, particularly when you combine it with smoking, is a significant risk factor for esophageal cancer. “Drinking alcohol raises the chance of esophageal cancer. The more alcohol individuals consume, the greater their risk of developing esophageal cancer,” according to the American Cancer Society. “Alcohol increases the danger of squamous cell carcinoma over adenocarcinoma by a large margin. Smoking enhances the risk of squamous cell esophagus cancer above either one alone.”
4 — What’s Barrett’s Esophagus?
Barrett’s esophagus is a disorder in which the esophagus gets damaged by continual acid reflux. “The lining of the esophagus tries to safeguard itself, therefore the cells within it alter themselves,” explains Daniela Molena. “The lining of the esophagus normally resembles that of the intestine or stomach. When I ask patients if they have had reflux or heartburn, they’ll often respond, “I used to get it as a youngster, but I do not have it anymore.” The discomfort generally goes away when Barrett’s disease sets in, which can be counter-productive because people want less help for their symptoms.”