Five Prevention Tips for Esophageal Cancer
1. Lose weight – Obesity leads to increased hiatus hernia and acid reflux which are responsible for the increasing rates of esophageal cancer. Talk with your doctor and develop a plan to lose weight by changing your eating habits and exercising regularly.
2. Don’t lie down right after eating – For those with acid reflux, the valve between the esophagus and the stomach doesn’t function properly, allowing the contents of the stomach to back up into the esophagus. Lying down can make your reflux problem worse, leading to nighttime heartburn. Eat early enough (2-3 hours) to give your stomach time to empty prior to going to bed.
3. Sleep with your head elevated – Lying down can exacerbate reflux disease. If you have reflux, consider taking action to make sure that your head and torso are elevated on a gradual incline while you sleep. Stomach acid, like water, does not roll uphill. You can raise one end of your bed so that your head is elevated as compared with your feet or you can use new products like the Gravity1st™ Elevated Sleep Systems mattress that allows you to sleep at a comfortable, yet Doctor recommended incline.
4. Take an antacid if necessary – If you are still having reflux issues, you can temporarily try to neutralize stomach acid before it backs up into the esophagus with over the counter antacids.
5. Talk to your doctor – If you have a long history of severe heartburn or acid indigestion, talk to your doctor about Barrett’s esophagus, which increases your risk of developing cancer. Even if your acid reflux symptoms are controlled, you still could be at risk. The only way to diagnose Barrett’s is with an endoscopy and biopsy. See www.ECAN.org for more information on Esophageal Cancer.
April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness month. Please help spread the word.