“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”; Research explores Hippocrates’s adage

February 12, 2015

Are you eating at least five fruits and vegetables every day?

A new study published in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that some compounds found largely in fruits and vegetables called “flavonoids may reduce incidence and improve survival” for some cancers.

It is well-known that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial to one’s health and well-being.  What is particularly exciting about this research is that it specifically focused on the two common types of esophageal cancer and gastric cancer.

The study is titled “Dietary intake of flavonoids and oesophageal and gastric cancer: incidence and survival in the United States of America (USA).”

Researchers interviewed patients that were diagnosed with esophageal cancer, both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and gastric cancer (adenocarcinoma).

Esophageal adenocarcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer in the western world and is the fastest growing cancer in the United States.*  

Also one of the deadliest cancers, esophageal cancer shows extremely poor survival rates, as the cancer is extremely aggressive and is typically caught in later, advanced stages. Currently, there are no routine or standard screenings to detect esophageal cancer in earlier stages.  The overall five-year survival rate is less than 18%.

According to the published abstract found on British Journal’s website, the researchers linked patients’ responses from food frequency questionnaires with USDA Flavonoid Databases and available literature for six flavonoid classes and lignans (chemical compound found in plants).

The abstract details that “flavonoids have experimentally demonstrated chemopreventive effects against esophageal and gastric cancers,” but there have been few studies which examine “flavonoid intake and incidence of these cancers and none have considered survival.”

Foods that may fight cancerWhile fruits and vegetables are the main sources of flavonoids, tea and red wine also contain the compound.

Certain fruits and vegetables can cause symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).  Therefore, acid reflux sufferers should be careful about consuming certain spicy, citrus and/or acidic food and drinks and should limit or completely avoid drinking wine.  It is important to speak to your doctor before making any changes to your health.

“Our findings, if confirmed, suggest that increased dietary anthocyanidin intake may reduce incidence and improve survival for these cancers,”  researchers stated.  To read the full abstract, please click here.

 

 


 

British Journal of Cancer, 10 February 2015; doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.25 bjcancer.com

“Esophageal Cancer On The Rise,” WebMD


Overweight children may be at higher risk of esophageal cancer as adults

February 10, 2015

Overweight children may be at higher risk of esophageal cancer when they grow up than their slimmer friends, according to research published this week in the British Journal of Cancer

Researchers* studied the health records of more than 255,000 Danish school children, born between 1930 and 1971, whose height and weight was measured every year between the ages of 7 and 13**. The researchers used this to go back and calculate their Body Mass Index (BMI).

BMI looks at weight compared to height and is a simple way of assessing whether people are a healthy weight.

More than 250 of the children went on to develop esophageal cancer over the age of 40. By matching these middle-aged patients with their school records, researchers found that children aged 9-13 with a higher BMI, who were more likely to be overweight or obese, appeared to be at greater risk of developing this type of cancer in later life.

Using their results from the 1930s to the 1970s, they calculated that 2.1 per cent of all oesophageal cases in adult men in Denmark could be attributed to boys being overweight or obese at the age of 13.

But they estimate that this figure could go up to around 17.5 per cent of all these male esophageal cancer cases in the future due to the rise in childhood obesity levels.

Dr Jennifer Baker, associate professor at The Institute of Preventive Medicine in Denmark and the University of Copenhagen, said: “Our results suggest that the increase in the number of overweight and obese children might lead to a significant rise in future cases of esophageal cancer.

“It may be that being overweight as a child is directly linked to a higher risk of developing this cancer in later life. Or it might be that overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults, and we know that being above a healthy weight as an adult is a risk factor for many cancers, including oesophageal.

More research is needed, but however the link works, our results underline how important it is for children to be a healthy weight – particularly as there is some evidence that overweight children could be at higher risk of other cancers later in life.”

Esophageal cancer – sometimes called cancer of the food pipe or gullet – is the 13th most common cancer in adults, with around 8,300 cases diagnosed each year in the UK.

In the United States, esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer with over a 600% increase in the past decades.

A previous Cancer Research UK study estimated that being overweight or obese causes more than one in four esophageal cancers in men and around one in 10 in women. This may be because people who are obese are more likely to suffer from acid reflux – when acid coming back up from the stomach can irritate the lining of the esophagus – which is a risk factor for esophageal cancer. A higher BMI is also associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease in children.

The Danish research did not take into account any social or lifestyle factors that might contribute to a person’s risk of developing cancer, but researchers say there was little evidence that these might have affected their results.

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “This research suggests that being overweight as a child could have effects on your health even decades later. It highlights how important it is to ensure that children eat healthily and are active, as this gives them the best possible start in life and could help to prevent them from developing diseases such as cancer in the future.”

Image via cancerresearchuk.org

 

This post is based on information provided by British Journal of Cancer.

Other sources: “Esophageal Cancer On The Rise,” WebMD


Transoral fundoplication is an effective treatment for patients with GERD

January 22, 2015

Transoral fundoplication is an effective treatment for patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), especially for patients with persistent regurgitation despite proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy, according to a new study published in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn.  Also known as acid reflux disease, GERD is one of the major risk factor associated with esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in the United States.

“Despite therapy, patients with GERD often suffer from troublesome regurgitation, which impairs their quality of life,” said lead study author John G. Hunter, MD, from Oregon Health & Science University. “This study offers evidence that transoral fundoplication is effective in eliminating troublesome GERD symptoms, especially regurgitation, with a low failure rate and good safety profile for six months.”

Researchers performed a prospective, sham-controlled trial to determine if transoral fundoplication provided GERD patients with better relief of troublesome regurgitation, or the sensation of acid backing up into a patient’s throat or mouth, when compared to PPI therapy. The researchers randomly assigned 129 patients with troublesome regurgitation despite daily PPI use to transoral fundoplication using the EsophyX-2 device and six months of placebo, or a sham surgery and six months of once or twice daily omeprazole. Patients were then evaluated for six months.

The primary endpoint in this study, elimination of troublesome regurgitation, was achieved in a greater proportion of patients treated with transoral fundoplication than with omeprazole: 67 percent versus 45 percent. Further, a larger proportion of controls demonstrated no response at three months (36 percent) than patients who underwent transoral fundoplication (11 percent). Subjects from both groups who completed the protocol had similar reductions in GERD symptom scores. Severe complications were rare.

GERD remains one of the most common conditions for which Americans take daily medication, and PPI use has more than doubled in the last decade. Despite this, up to 40 percent of PPI-dependent GERD patients have troublesome symptoms of GERD.

Transoral fundoplication — an incisionless procedure that allows physicians to reshape the anti-reflux valve that prevents stomach acid and contents from flowing up into the esophagus — may offer a new treatment option for these patients.

This study provides evidence of transoral fundoplication’s efficacy, and will likely lead to more widespread use of the procedure in clinical practice.. To help health-care decision makers make informed decisions regarding this technology, the AGA Center for GI Innovation and Technology has partnered with EndoGastric Solutions® to establish the STAR Registry (Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication (LNF) Surgery Versus Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF®): Anti-Reflux Treatment Registry). The STAR Registry will provide the first real-world data observing patient outcomes following laparoscopic surgery and transoral fundoplication with the EsophyX® device. Learn more about this endeavor here.

Learn more about GERD in the AGA patient brochure.

 

 

This post is based on information provided by The American Gastroenterological Association.

Other sources: “Esophageal Cancer On The Rise,” WebMD


Father’s Cherished Gifts

January 16, 2015

This post was originally published on January 1, 2015 on the website: “On a Brighter Note” by Lori Welbourne.  Thank you Ms. Welbourne for allowing us to share this inspiring story.

FATHER’S CHERISHED GIFTS:

Two months ago my dad called and as soon as I heard the sound of his voice I knew something was wrong.

“Hi, Honey,” he said softly. “Do you have a couple of minutes?” Instinctively my eyes welled up with tears and I could feel my throat constrict.

“Yes,” I said, bracing myself for the news he was about to deliver. His voice uncharacteristically cracked with emotion as he told me he had esophageal cancer. Feeling the quick onset of a throbbing headache and a shortness of breath I failed to stop myself from crying out loud.

“I don’t want you to worry,” he said. “I’ll be going for tests and we’ll find out what can be done. I’ll keep you informed. Just think positive thoughts, okay? There’s nothing we can’t handle.”

After our conversation ended and I hung up the phone I no longer tried to control my sorrow and allowed myself to weep with abandon.

Ken White was only 67 years old and had just retired in May. He was full of life and excited about the future. He’d been diagnosed with skin cancer and a slow-growing leukemia not long ago – both of which he’d downplayed as nothing to be concerned about. But this new discovery of a life-threatening tumor in his lower esophagus was alarming.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in a haze. I tried to only think optimistically as he requested, but I found myself emotionally raw and physically drained, breaking down in tears several times over the next few days. After our mother’s death less than a year prior I’d convinced myself that our healthy father would live to be at least 100 years old.

Over the next couple of weeks, as he went for tests and we waited for results I got better at carrying out his wishes to only think positively, and when he called with an update I fully expected him to tell me the cancer was treatable. When my hopes were met I cried again, but this time with tears of joy.

“We’re going to fight this aggressively, Kiddo,” my dad said, detailing the weekly chemotherapy and daily radiation treatments for the entire month of December. “Hopefully the tumor will decrease in size and the surgeon will be able to remove it in the new year.”

As promised, Dad kept us updated with his progress, even sending smiling pictures of himself hooked up to an IV getting his chemo.

Since he was advised to avoid crowds and public places so his weakened immune system wouldn’t be challenged, we weren’t sure if we’d have the opportunity to see him at Christmas. Fortunately his doctors approved a visit from us providing we were in good health.

My children, husband, brothers, sister-in-law, nephews, uncle, grandma and I arrived at Dad’s place on Boxing Day at 11 am at his request. When we got to the door his wife said he was resting and summoned us into the living room. We visited quietly for awhile until we were suddenly interrupted by a jolly good bellowing of “Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!”

Looking up in surprise, I watched my father enter the room wearing a Santa outfit and beard, ringing a bell and handing out gift cards to everyone.

Again I felt my eyes well up with tears of joy.

It was one of those moments I’ll never forget. Not because it caught us off guard in such a sweet and wonderful way, but because it so completely captured the essence of this man who always seems to react to everything with an optimistic frame of mind.

“My cup is never half empty,” he’s often said over the years. And from a lifetime of observing how he’s chosen to think, his cup isn’t just half full, it’s running over.

Dad’s jovial outlook has been an incredible blessing to our family. But the gift we cherish most is his unconditional love and support – something we adoringly give right back.


Would you like to share your personal experiences with esophageal cancer?  Learn more about how your story can make a difference: Share Your Story 

 

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Esophageal cancer included in new study’s ‘bad luck’ list

January 13, 2015

Earlier this year, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine published a new study in which they claim and have been reported by the news media as claiming that the majority of cancers are due to “bad luck.”  They have more recently come back to address the concerns and questions that generated due to their initial statements.

Esophageal cancer was included in the study of 31 cancer types and was also mentioned in a diagram that came with the press release from Johns Hopkins.

"Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have created a statistical model that measures the proportion of cancer risk, across many tissue types, caused mainly by random mutations that occur when stem cells divide. By their measure, two-thirds of the variation in adult cancer risk across tissues can be explained primarily by “bad luck,” when these random mutations occur in genes that can drive cancer growth, while the remaining third are due to environmental factors and inherited genes."

Credit: C. Tomasetti and B. Vogelstein, Illustrator Elizabeth Cook, John Hopkins School of Medicine

At first look, we became quite alarmed.

For years, we have explained the dangerous risk factors associated with esophageal cancer and the importance of early detection to improve the chances of survival; which are currently grim.

There is substantial research which proves that factors including, but not limited to: chronic heartburn, obesity, tobacco use, poor nutrition and excessive drinking can increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Unfortunately, this new research from John Hopkins and subsequent media reports seems to imply otherwise.

Esophageal cancer should not be categorized as “bad luck.”  

These statements have the potential to bring us leaps and bounds backwards in this mission to raise awareness of the dangerous and deadly risk factors associated with esophageal cancer.

Especially chronic heartburn, which is one of the most common symptoms of the primary risk factor associated with esophageal cancer. Barrett’s esophagus is a potentially precancerous condition which is caused only by the reflux of stomach acids and contents upwards into the esophagus.

Raising awareness of risk factors associated with esophageal cancer can help to reduce incidence of esophageal cancer diagnosis; just as encouraging those who are at an elevated risk to speak with their doctors about getting screened as early as possible will improve the chances of survival if esophageal cancer is detected.

This research does shed light on an important aspect of esophageal cancer.

There are cases of esophageal cancer which occur in people who do not have any of these risk factors.  These people never had acid reflux or had mild, occasional heartburn; never smoked or used any tobacco products; exercised regularly; ate a well-balance and nutritious diet; maintained a healthy weight and did not use alcohol in excess.

How will we encourage these people to get screened for a cancer that they show no risk for?

How can they reduce their risk of esophageal cancer if they are already considered not to be at risk?

The takeaway from these new claims from John Hopkins should be that there is still a dire need for funding of esophageal cancer research.  Researchers need to explore the fundamental reasons behind esophageal cancer, especially in those who show no risk.

Would you like to support these efforts and to fund esophageal cancer research?  Please click here to make a contribution in support of our mission.


Non-invasive device enables better monitoring of esophageal disease

January 8, 2015

EnteroTrack, LLC and the University of Colorado (CU) have executed an exclusive license agreement that will allow the company to develop and market a novel device to monitor inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Diagnosing inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract such as eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), severe gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), eosinophilic gastroenteritis (EGE), food allergic enteropathy (FAE), and inflammatory bowel disease (lBD) is often difficult, since blood tests and radio-imaging aren’t able to pinpoint the cause of inflammation. Ultimately, many patients must undergo endoscopy – use of an instrument to visualize the esophagus and collect samples for testing.

EnteroTrack LLC is developing a capsule that allows for simple, low-cost analysis of esophageal content. The capsule can help identify the presence of esophageal inflammation, leading to faster treatment. The capsule can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment, and in the future may also be used to help diagnose esophageal diseases.

The company was formed as a result of a partnership between Glenn T. Furuta, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the CU School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus and a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado; Robin Shandas, Ph.D., professor and chair of bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver, College of Engineering and Applied Science; and Steven Ackerman, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago.

“This partnership represents the best aspect of academic medicine,” said Furuta. “We have been able to successfully collaborate in a multi-disciplinary fashion to develop and execute a plan that will ultimately improve the lives children and adults with gastrointestinal diseases.” Furuta developed the technology in collaboration with Ackerman; the duo then approached Shandas to move the idea from the university research lab into a commercial entity.

At that time, Children’s Hospital Colorado stepped in to provide seed funding to the company, supporting the innovative research of the researchers and recognizing the opportunity to positively impact the lives of children with inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal track.

“Given the increasing pressures to contain costs, there is clear rationale for innovative, cost-effective methods to monitor esophageal diseases,” said Shandas, who is acting as the company’s interim CEO. “This technology holds particular promise because it can reduce total patient care costs while keeping good margins. We hope to obtain FDA approval for the device in 2015.”

Source: University of Colorado (CU) 


Esophageal Cancer Research Grant Funding Period Open

January 7, 2015

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity established to raise awareness, encourage early detection and to fund research of esophageal cancer…in hopes of a cure.™

Established on November 21, 2011, in memory of The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation’s President’s father who died of esophageal cancer, the charity has successfully achieved two out of their three core missions in less than five years; awareness and encouraging early detection.

Now, for the first time, The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation will accomplish the third part of its mission by funding research of esophageal cancer.

“The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation  is excited to announce that our grant funding period is now open and will begin the process of receiving applications.”

Currently, esophageal cancer [adenocarcinoma] is the fastest growing cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute and is rapidly increasing in many other western countries.

Esophageal cancer has increased over 600% in past decades, which some experts say may be attributed to the rising number of people being affected by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, known more commonly as GERD or acid reflux disease.  The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, which affects billions of people each year.

Unfortunately, many are unaware that chronic heartburn can lead to esophageal cancer.

Also one of the deadliest cancers, symptoms of esophageal cancer, such as difficulty swallowing, do not typically appear until the cancer has spread and becomes much more difficult to treat.  There are also no standard or routine screenings to detect esophageal cancer in its earlier stages.

Patients diagnosed with Stage IV esophageal cancer face a survival rate of 3.8%.  The overall 5 year survival rate for esophageal cancer is only 17.5%.

Despite these facts, esophageal cancer is among a group of cancers that receive the least amount of medical research funding from the federal government.

In fact, the National Cancer Institute decreased funding for research of esophageal cancer by 15% in 2012.   NCI invests a mere $28.0 million out of their total $5.07 billion budget for esophageal cancer.  That is approximately half of one percent.

In 2014, while The American Cancer Society reported on their website that they currently fund 1,165 cancer research projects, but only 8 of those projects are for esophageal cancer research.

There is a dire need for funding for esophageal cancer research.  The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation welcomes applications from researchers who are working in the areas of prevention, early detection and treatment of esophageal cancer.

Researchers are invited to click here for more information on the Grant Application Process. 

Those who wish to contribute to the Foundation’s esophageal cancer research efforts can click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

 

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The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation has opened its Grant Funding Period and will now be accepting applications for funding of esophageal cancer research studies.