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Esophageal Cancer

Take your health into your own hands.

Esophageal cancer strikes nearly 18,500 people annually, most of them men. Often found in advanced stages, it can often be difficult to treat – but it is one of the most preventable cancers. Research shows that healthy lifestyle habits can play a significant role in lowering esophageal cancer risk.

This content was last updated on January 9, 2020

Many cases of esophageal cancers are not diagnosed until the advanced stages. This cancer will claim an estimated 16,000 lives in the US this year alone.

Most esophageal cancers are classified as either squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma, depending upon the type of cells. AICR’S latest report on esophageal cancer found that maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of adenocarcinoma. Drinking alcohol links to a higher risk of squamous cell carcinoma.

Read Full Report

CUP report on Esophageal Cancer:

Lifestyle and esophageal cancer risk.

  • Weight

    Excess body fatness puts you at greater risk for esophageal cancer.

    • Overweight and obesity are associated with gastro-esophageal reflux and Barrett’s esophagus, conditions which damage the cells lining the esophagus in ways that make them prone to cancer.
    • Being overweight and obese also increases blood levels of insulin and related hormones that can encourage the growth of cancer.
  • Alcohol

    Risk for esophageal cancer increases as alcohol consumption increases.

    • The body converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, a potent carcinogen.
    • Alcohol may act as a solvent, making it easier for carcinogens such as tobacco smoke to penetrate the cells lining the esophagus.
    • Alcohol can adversely affect how efficiently the body repairs DNA damage and defends against free radicals.
  • Smoking

    Both current and former smokers increase their risk of developing esophageal cancer.

  • Age

    The older you are, the greater your risk.

  • Diet

    The traditional South American drink, maté, is traditionally drunk scalding hot through a metal straw and may raise esophageal cancer risk.

Take a moment to check in with your health:

Foods that fight esophageal cancer.

No single food can protect you against cancer by itself. But research shows that a diet filled with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and other plant foods helps lower risk for many cancers.

Cancer Updates

The science of survival.

AICR’s health guides and recommendations are developed from research that focuses on how nutrition and lifestyle affect the prevention, treatment, and survival of cancer. Paramount to our updates is the Continuous Update Project which helps you stay on top of new findings, and understand the data that sits at the center of our work.