FRIDAY, Feb. 29, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- There may be a link between rising rates of carbohydrate intake and obesity and the increasing number of esophageal cancer cases in the United States, a new study says.
Researchers noted that cases of esophageal cancer increased from 300,000 in 1973 to 2.1 million in 2001, which closely mirrors increases in carbohydrate intake and obesity over the same time.
Obesity is a major risk factor for many types of cancer, and a diet high in calories from refined carbohydrates is a common contributor to obesity, the researchers noted. They also said no other studied nutrients were found to correlate with esophageal cancer rates.
"If we can reverse the trends in refined carbohydrate intake and obesity in the U.S., we may be able to reduce the incidence of esophageal cancer," study senior author Dr. Li Li, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Health System, said in a prepared statement.
The study was published in a recent issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology.
The causes of esophageal cancer are largely unknown, and despite recent advances, patients with this type of cancer have a poor prognosis. The five-year survival rate is less than 20 percent.
The American Cancer Society has more about esophageal cancer.