Study links abdominal fat (visceral) to increased risk of Barrett’s esophagus

February 14, 2014

A recent study shows that carrying more weight in the midsection may increase one’s risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, a precursor to esophageal cancer.

Health.Harvard.edu

Barrett’s esophagus is “a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) is damaged by stomach acid and changed to a lining similar to that of the stomach.”*  Barrett’s esophagus has been shown to be a precursor to esophageal cancer.  

This study linked a higher amount of visceral fat to a greater risk of Barrett’s esophagus.

The fat located in the abdominal region is either defined as visceral or subcutaneous. Visceral fat surrounds the organs in the abdominal region, while subcutaneous fat is located between the skin and the abdominal wall. 

Researchers reported that the elevated risk of Barrett’s esophagus related to the increase of visceral abdominal fat was found in both those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms and also those who do not experience GERD symptoms.

For a more information on the study, please refer to the following two articles:

“Visceral abdominal obesity measured by CT scan is associated with an increased risk of Barrett’s oesophagus: a case-control study.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

“Visceral adipose tissue increased risk for Barrett’s esophagus.” Healio Gastroenterology

*“Barrett’s esophagus.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine 


Is your heartburn affecting your sleep?

February 11, 2014

Suffering from heartburn, whether be it during the day or at night, is an annoyance that many Americans cope with, some on a daily basis. An alarming 60 million Americans experience it at least once a month and 25 million Americans suffer from heartburn every day. When heartburn is this frequent or severe, people may be diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, more commonly known as GERD.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines GERD as “a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach).” This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, becomes damaged or weakened.

If not properly treated, long-term sufferers of GERD can develop serious medical conditions, which include chronic cough or hoarseness, esophagitis, bleeding, scarring or ulcers of the esophagus and Barrett’s esophagus, an abnormal change in the lining of the esophagus that can potentially raise the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

It is important to note that many patients who are diagnosed with GERD do not experience heartburn at all. Below are the most frequently reported symptoms of GERD:

• Heartburn (a symptom of acid reflux)
• Bad breath
• Burning or pain in the chest or throat
• Chronic cough
• Hoarseness or chronic sore throat
• Bitter taste in mouth
• Inflammation in the mouth and erosion of teeth
• Problems swallowing
• Asthma-like symptoms
• Excessive belching

GERD is amongst the most prevalent upper gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and most likely one of the most common disease diagnosed by Gastroenterologists across our nation.

For many, GERD does not just disrupt their daily routine, but their sleep as well. GERD sufferers who have trouble sleeping at night could also go on to experience other health problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepiness during the day and restless leg syndrome.

It is best to first speak to a gastroenterologist or a primary health care provider to see what options are available to treat GERD effectively. Below are some helpful tips in order to reduce GERD symptoms and enjoy a better night’s sleep.

• Eat smaller meals
• Chew food slowly and thoroughly
• Say upright after meals
• Avoid foods which trigger your GERD symptoms (fats, spicy foods, alcohol)
• Keep a food journal to track your “trigger foods”
• Try sleeping with your head elevated. Either with extra pillows or a wedge pillow
• Restrict your eating in the evening
• Do not eat or drink anything two hours before bedtime (with the exception of water for medications.)

Again, please consult your doctor if you are having problems sleeping at night or are experiencing frequent or severe heartburn.  These suggestions are intended for informational purposes only.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Sources:
National Sleep Foundation
WebMD
American College of Gastroenterology 
 
 
 

‘Missed Opportunities in GERD Complication Screenings’

January 30, 2014

High-risk patients don’t always get endoscopic examination for Barrett’s esophagus, cancer, say researchers.
Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Men aged 65 years and older are much more likely to suffer the complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), such as Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal, gastric or duodenal cancer, but they’re much less likely to undergo endoscopic screenings that can detect these complications, according to recent research.

Go to full story in Outpatient Surgery here.

 

 

 

 

 


RefluxMD: “Diagnosing GERD: The First Step Towards Treatment”

January 16, 2014

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) elevates one’s risk of developing esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma.)  The risk further increases based on the severity of symptoms (ie. heartburn and regurgitation from the stomach) and how long it goes without being properly treated.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines GERD as “a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach).” This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, becomes damaged or weakened.

Esophageal cancer adenocarinoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and also one of the deadliest cancers.  Since the cancer is often detected late, the survival rate is extremely low.   Therefore, it is crucial to speak to your doctor if you or someone you know is suffering from frequent heartburn and/or regurgitation.

There are many tests that can be performed to accurately diagnose GERD.  Too often, PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) are prescribed by doctors for the treatment of GERD.  PPIs function are to only manage GERD symptoms they do not repair the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Unfortunately, these medications do not relieve all patients from their GERD symptoms and they are not intended to be taken for a long period of time as they can cause serious long-term health effects.

Our friends at RefluxMD put together a fantastic article which describes the various ways your doctor can assess your condition.  Don’t ignore frequent heartburn!  Take the very first step in managing your GERD symptoms by reading this article.  Click here to learn more.

We are thankful for resources such as our friends at RefluxMD.  By working together, we can continue to raise awareness of esophageal cancer and dangerous risk factors such as GERD.


Abdominal Fat Linked to Esophageal Cancer; Tips to Trim Your Waistline

November 22, 2013

New research shows that central adiposity (an accumulation of fat in the abdomen area) is associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer. This research was published in the November issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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Being overweight, particularly in the mid-section, elevates not only the risk of developing esophageal cancer, as this new research states, but a number of other diseases, proven in other studies. Below are some tips to help reduce “belly fat” and improve overall health and wellness.

Eat one less cookie a day

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD, suggests in his book, YOU on a Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management to reduce your caloric intake by just 100 calories per day. That means, eat one less cookie, candy bar, can/bottle of soda or piece of holiday pie. This seemingly small change can have a huge impact. Dr. Oz suggests that it may help you to lose about 12 pounds per year*.

Get moving

Refer to Sir Isaac Newton’s Frist Law of Motion: “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.” Basically, the more you exercise the more you will burn and the more you rest, the more you will gain. Whether you are a triathlete or a couch potato, workout at your speed.

Count sheep

Studies have shown that when we are tired and are not sleeping properly, it negatively affects our appetite, which causes us not only to gain weight but make improper food choices. Keep your sleeping area calming, avoid technology right before bed and make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

Build muscle

Strengthening your core (abdominal) and lower back muscles will help you shed belly fat fast. Remember to always practice safe lifting while exercising. It may also be helpful to consider working with a personal trainer for even just a few lessons to make sure you are working out right and to avoid injury. Ladies, muscle burns fat. Pay no attention to the myth that if lifting weights will cause your body to transform into a bodybuilder’s.

Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner AND snacks!

According to research, eating healthy meals and snacks regularly throughout the day will not only benefit your health but keep you more focused and energized. When we do not eat regularly, we make poor food choices and our body can go into “starvation-mode”, which can cause it to hold on to more fat. Dr. Oz recommends his patients avoid eating processed foods because they can cause you to still be hungry soon after you’re done brushing the crumbs away.

Ditch the elevator

For many, the majority of our day is spent sedentary. Whether we are at a desk in front of a computer at work, watching TV, playing video or online games, eating meals or driving in the car, we sit, sit and sit some more. The best way to burn extra calories every day is to move around more. It sounds simple, but you can burn a significant amount of calories by taking extra trips to the water cooler during the day at work, parking your car further away from the door, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator and even walking a bit further with your dog. Here are some tips to “workout” when you are at work!

Keep healthy snacks on hand

Pack healthy snacks and take them with you when you are on-the-go. Choose foods like almonds, celery, carrots, greek yogurt, berries and whole grain crackers. Keeping healthy options on-hand can help you avoid the dreaded vending machine and quiet your grumbling stomach. Again, sometimes when we are hungry, we end up making poor food choices.

Stress less

Easier said than done, right? Reduce your daily stress by meditating, practicing yoga, taking a walk, reading a book or sipping tea. Stress affects many aspects of our mental, emotional and physical health. Check out our Pinterest board “Namaste” for some great Yoga tips.

Don’t give up

Author Louis Sachar once stated ‘It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.’  Keep going, don’t give up and remember to be proud of all your achievements, no matter how big or how small. Positive thinking will keep you going through the good times and the bad.

As always, consult your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise or lifestyle. The aforementioned is for informational purposes only and should not be misconstrued for medical advice.


RefluxMD: Don’t be fooled, your heartburn could be serious

June 20, 2013

RefluxMD: Don’t be fooled, your heartburn could be serious

by Dr. Dengler

Heartburn can become an escalating problem if ignored. It can also be a dangerous condition if it is masked by just taking antacids.

Most people believe, however, that recurring acid reflux is a normal part of over-eating or sampling spicy food. These acid reflux sufferers don’t realize that one out of every three adults struggle with heartburn and regurgitation on a monthly basis, with 50 million people battling symptoms several times per week.

A nagging problem of heartburn and acid reflux seems easy to fix when watching the many pharmaceutical commercials claiming that a colored pill, taken daily, can solve the problem; in fact many Americans have accepted big pharma’s suggested solution as an easy fix to their woes.

Today, the drug industry sells over $14 billion in heartburn medications. The popular drug is in a class called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that work by reducing the amount of acid produced within the stomach.

Unfortunately, the millions of people who take these prescription drugs or over the counter medications are masking a serious and developing problem.

Unknown to millions of people regularly taking PPI pills to solve their heartburn is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning labels on these prescription drugs clearly states that patients should take the pills for no more than 14 days of temporary relief.

Two weeks of blocked calcium production in your stomach is the maximum timeframe recommended by medical doctors to mask acid reflux without being under the care of a physician—any longer can have serious negative consequences.

If you have heartburn for longer than 14 days then you have a bigger problem than a pill can help solve.

The stomach pains or burning sensation you feel are signals from your body that something is wrong. An acidic stomach is normal and is necessary for the efficient digestion of food.

So why are you getting those pains frequently? Simple, it is due to a small valve at the end of your esophagus called the LES, or your lower esophageal sphincter.

A healthy LES acts as barrier in keeping stomach contents where they belong — in your stomach.

The LES frequently becomes damaged, and when it does, those acidic stomach contents can flow up into the esophagus. When stomach acid leaves your stomach, it can be painful.

In fact, over 200,000 individuals visit emergency rooms each year believing they are having a heart attack only to learn that their pain was from acid reflux and not from a heart problem.

Unfortunately, for a segment of those with reflux disease, heartburn can progress to a precancerous condition called Barrett’s Esophagus, and in some cases, it can advance to adenocarcinoma, better known as esophageal cancer.

In fact, the incidence of esophageal cancer is the fastest growing of all cancers in the U.S., outpacing melanomas, breast and prostate cancers.

PPIs have proven to relieve symptoms, and for several medical conditions, they are highly valuable for short to mid-term use.

However, they are not a cure.

As they cannot strengthen or repair the LES, the cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease, they can only mask the symptoms. As a result, the disease continues indefinitely.

At a recent gastroesophageal conference, Dr. David Kleiman with the Department of Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College presented a research study documenting that 32% of PPI use beyond an initial 8-week trial was unnecessary since there was “no evidence of reflux disease” with those individuals.

According to Dr. Kleiman, “PPIs continue to be misused and overused in a large percent of our population.”

If you are experiencing regular heartburn and think you are solving your problem by consistently taking an acid production blocker, you may be masking a serious problem.

Even worse, you could be increasing your troubles by subjecting yourself to the dangerous and common side-effects of routine PPI usage.

Instead of turning to costly, unnecessary, and often dangerous pills, you should consult your physician and create a real plan to manage your acid reflux.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/06/13/dont-be-fooled-your-heartburn-could-be-serious/

 


Register today! 2nd Annual Esophageal Cancer Walk/Run

May 24, 2013

Join us Saturday, June 15, 9 AM at Warwick City Park for the 2nd Annual Esophageal Cancer Walk/Run!

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event.

Whether you decide to walk or run, or a little bit of both, get your team together today!

Be sure to bring your friends, family, co-workers and pets, too!

Children 12 and under and pets are FREE!

Register online: http://salgiwalkrun.eventbrite.com

We look forward to another fun and successful event to support esophageal cancer research!

Thank you!

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