Carbonation May Raise Risk of Esophageal Cancer

By Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed per capita consumption of carbonated drinks rose by more than 450 percent, from 10.8 gallons (49 liters) on average in 1946 to 49.2 gallons (224 liters) in 2000. Over the past 25 years, the incidence rates of esophageal cancer have risen by more than 570 percent. Esophageal cancer affected 13,900 U.S. men and women in 2003 and killed almost all of them, according to the American Cancer Society.

Researchers found that the number of esophageal cancer cases clearly followed the rise in intake of carbonated soft drinks. That could be coincidence, but they also found research that showed a possible biological basis for the effect. Carbonated soft drinks cause the stomach to distend, which in turn causes the gastric reflux associated with esophageal cancer.

Increases in esophageal cancer are not limited to the United States. Researchers found similar trends worldwide. Countries with per capita annual consumption of more than 20 gallons of fizzy soft drinks also had rising rates of esophageal cancer.


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