Everyone loves the occasional foray into junk food territory, but some of us indulge once too many. While the clear perils of junk food are excess weight gain and increase in bad cholesterol, there’s one more danger that you may not have paid attention to. And it’s worse than getting fatter, which is something that can be reversed. Deep fried food stuff, and extra fatty junk food along with sugar-loaded sodas can increase risk of food pipe cancer.

The Times of India reports that over the past two decades, cases of cancer of the lower part of the food pipe caused by prolonged acid reflux disease has increased two-fold in hospitals in India. Acid reflux disease is caused when the acid that is used to digest foods in your stomach is released into the lower part of the food pipe. This causes inflammation and scars in the the lining of the food pipe, leading to something called the gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Doctors say, the report claims, “reflux has reached epidemic proportions.”

“This kind of cancer is common in the west. Now we are seeing it more often in India. There is a link between high-fat, low-fibre food and cancer. Many people diagnosed with this type of cancer have been suffering from reflux,” Dr R Swaminathan of the Cancer Institute, is quoted as saying in TOI.

Acid reflux leads to adenocarcinoma that develops in the gland cells. The Cancer Institute in Chennai, has ordered a pilot study. Adenocarcinoma affects the bottom part of the food pipe, while other cases cancer in the food pipe occurred mostly in the top and middle parts of the foodpipe, caused largely by smoking and chewing tobacco. Doctors say nearly a quarter of foodpipe cancers currently occur in the bottom of the food pipe. The report cites the example of Coimbatore as an extreme situation, where experts claim 40% to 50% of food pipe cancers are related to GERD.

The only hope for those addicted to junk food – make no mistake, it’s a psychological addiction – is that adenocarcinoma is relatively easier to treat than squamous cell carcinoma that’s caused by smoking. In early stages, the reflux can be treated with medicines or endoscopic surgery  and even its next stage – Barrett’s disease – is treatable.

Main image: Junk Food | Ebruli

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