Today, May 29, 2014, is World Digestive Health Day! As advocates of esophageal health and the prevention of esophageal cancer; we find it very important to increase awareness and education of the important role that the esophagus plays in the digestive system.
The esophagus is the first conduit in the digestive tube and plays a simple yet significant part in the human digestive system. When we swallow, food or liquids are pushed from the mouth into a muscular tube, the esophagus and into the stomach.
The lower esophageal sphincter is located at the base of the esophagus and is responsible for controlling the passage of food and liquid between the esophagus and stomach. The LES is a ring-shaped muscle which relaxes to allow food and liquid into the stomach. Once the food and liquid pass through the relaxed sphincter, it closes back up, thus keeping the food and liquid in the stomach.
Problems arise when the LES weakens and does not close properly. When this happens, stomach contents escape the stomach and flow back up into the esophagus. This backflow of stomach content is called reflux. For those who experience reflux symptoms (heartburn included) more than twice a week may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Over time, the back-flow of stomach contents and acids irritate the esophagus and can cause serious damage to the esophagus, including esophageal cancer.
Join us in raising awareness of the importance of esophageal health today and everyday!
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Sources: University of Maryland Medical Center Nat’l Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), Nat’l Institutes of Health (NIH) The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.
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