What Are the Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer

What Are the Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer?

• Steaming-hot food. Very hot foods—such as rice, soup, and tea— can cause injuries to mucous cells in the esophagus. Consumption of steaming-hot foods elevates the risk of esophageal cancer.

• Acid reflux. Acid reflux injures mucous cells in the esophagus and causes Barrett's esophagus with precancerous mucous cells, increasing the risk of esophageal cancer. Nevertheless, most patients with Barrett's esophagus never develop esophageal cancer.

• Smoking. Cigarette smoke contains more than 60 known carcinogens, some of which enter the bloodstream and travel to the esophagus. These carcinogens may induce DNA mutations and transform mucous cells to cancerous cells in the esophagus.

• Alcohol. Alcohol from alcoholic beverages can enter the blood circulation system, travel to the esophagus, and cause damage to mucous cells. Alcohol is also degraded into aldehyde in the body. Both alcohol and aldehyde affect the methylation of DNA and increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

• Human papillomavirus (HPV). People infected with HPV have an increased risk of esophageal cancer.

• Obesity. Obese people are more likely to have acid reflux and Barrett's esophagus. In addition, fat tissues in obese people stimulate the immune cells to produce inflammatory cytokines, which can injure the mucous layer of the esophagus and increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

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