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Reducing Your Risk of Esophageal Cancer
Things that can help reduce the risk of esophageal cancer are:
Tobacco use is the biggest risk for esophageal cancer. People who smoke and drink have an even higher risk. All forms of smoking are harmful. The sooner smoking is stopped, the sooner the body can heal.
Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation
Drinking too much alcohol can raise the risk of esophageal cancer. Those who drink should aim for moderation. For women this means no more than one drink per day. For men it means no more than two drinks per day.
Eat a Healthful Diet
A healthful diet can lower the risk of esophageal and many other types of cancer. Aim for a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and dietary fiber. Limit high fat dairy, processed foods, and red meat.
Avoid drinking hot beverages right away. Allow them to cool down first.
Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of esophageal cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of regular exercise on most days of the week.
Manage Work Exposures
Many people are exposed to chemicals at work. Steps should be taken to avoid inhaling harmful chemicals. This may mean finding a different work environment. If that is not possible, protective guidelines may be found at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or the Environmental Protection Agency .
Manage Environmental Exposures
Exposure to radiation can cause problems. It builds up in the body over time. It may be hard to avoid this. Some tests and treatments use radiation. The doctor or dentist can discuss risks and benefits.
Avoid inhaling harsh, burning chemicals like lye or drain cleaner. They should be locked away from children.
Manage Health Conditions
Some health problems raise the risk of esophageal cancer. They include:
- Barrett’s esophagus —The doctor may advise regular endoscopy to watch for cancer.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease —Medicines can help.
- Obesity —A registered dietitian can help with a weight loss plan.
- Achalasia —Medicines can help.
- Nutritional deficiencies—A registered dietitian can help with meal planning. Supplements may be added.
Talk to Your Doctor About the Benefits of Aspirin
Aspirin may help lower the risk of esophageal cancer. However, aspirin can have side effects. It is important to look at risks and benefits. The doctor can help with that.
Esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/esophageal-and-esophagogastric-junction-cancer. Accessed March 15, 2021.
Esophageal cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/tumors-of-the-gi-tract/esophageal-cancer. Accessed March 15, 2021.
Esophagus cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003098-pdf.pdf. Accessed March 15, 2021.
Short MW, Burgers KG, et al. Esophageal Cancer. Am Fam Physician. 2017;95(1):22-28.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 01/2021
- Update Date: 03/15/2021