Whole Grains May Protect Against Esophageal Cancer
Esophageal Cancer is one of the most deadly cancers of the digestive tract. In the United States, it accounts for 1% of all cancers diagnosed in this country.The incidence of esophageal cancer has risen by more than 700% in the past four decades, making it the fastest growing cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Fortunately, a large body of research has shown that avoiding alcohol and nicotine, while eliminating animal protein, as well as consuming whole grains instead of refined grains can (when instituted together) help to prevent the onset of esophageal cancer. One study conducted by a group of researchers from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland found out that regular intake of unrefined whole grains significantly cut down the risk of esophageal cancer by a whopping 45%. A total of 113,933 persons participated in this study and were observed for their diets and incidence of esophageal cancer. "In this study, whole-grain consumption, particularly whole-grain wheat, was inversely associated with risk of esophageal cancer," concluded the authors. Another study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that replacing dairy and other animal product foods with unrefined whole grains can lower the risk of getting esophageal cancer.
Scientists believe that the protective effect exerted by whole grains on esophageal cancer may be due to their high content of fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Vegetables may have even more of those good phytonutrients than do unrefined whole grains. Obesity, inflammation, oxidative stress, and gastro-esophageal reflux disease have all been implicated in the development of esophageal cancer. The fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds in whole grains help to regulate weight gain, protect against gastro-esophageal reflux disease, neutralize excess free radicals, and combat chronic inflammation, thereby reducing the likelihood of acquiring esophageal cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, lifestyle factors, such as obesity, smoking, and alcohol, cause 9 out of 10 esophageal cancers. This implies that esophageal cancer is primarily a lifestyle disease and as such, is actually preventable. Daily consumption of 3 servings of whole grains, if they are ingested instead of meat, eggs, or cheese, has been associated with significant reduction in the risk of several chronic diseases, including esophageal cancer. Choosing unrefined whole grains instead of eating refined grains made into flour may improve our chances of avoiding this fatal cancer that takes more than 15,000 American lives every year.