The American Cancer Society’s recent statistics show that esophageal cancer ranks as the 6th most common cause of cancer-related deaths among men in the U.S. In 2013 alone, an estimated 18,000 cases of esophageal cancer were diagnosed, and over 15,000 deaths were caused by this disease. It’s been found that men are 4 times more at risk for developing esophageal cancer than women. While the risk factors have been identified to range from chronic GERD to tobacco and alcohol use, a group of researchers are looking to physical activity as prevention of esophageal cancer.
Mayo Clinic researcher and accomplished gastroenterologist, Dr. Siddharth Singh, presented his team’s research at the American College of Gastroenterology’s 78th Annual Scientific Meeting that was held in San Diego, California. Their findings exhibited an indirect relationship between an individual’s risk of acquiring esophageal cancer and their level of physical activity.
They conducted a meta-analysis of four observational investigations and noted a decrease in risk of approximately 32% among subjects who engaged in physical activity. Their analyses exhibited a total 19% lower risk of developing esophageal cancer among individuals with the highest levels of physical activity.
“Obesity has been associated with increased risk of esophageal cancer through high levels of insulin, as well as chronic inflammation,” said Dr. Siddharth Singh. “By decreasing visceral fat, lowering the level of carcinogenic adipokines, improving insulin sensitivity, and decreasing chronic inflammation, physical activity can potentially decrease risk of esophageal cancer.”
With esophageal cancer having a mere 5-year survival rate of about 15%, and a majority of diagnosed individuals dying in under a year, there is an increasing need to push preventive measures against this deadly disease – especially in eliminating modifiable risk factors such as obesity.
While Dr. Singh explains that their findings are still preliminary, he and his team believe encouraging physical activity is fundamental to promoting overall health, much more, in the battle against cancer.