Lifestyle

Acid reflux, obesity may be behind big rise in cancer

A GENETIC mutation triggered by the obesity epidemic could lie behind the dramatic increase in a type of cancer which is affecting the UK more than any other nation.

Cancer of the oesophagus - or gullet - has been rising in all western countries as a result of a change in the nature of the disease.

In the UK, the rate has risen by 50 per cent over the past 25 years, with around 8,500 new cases a year.

The cancer affects the foodpipe which extends around 26cm from the mouth to the stomach.

It has one of the poorest survival rates of any cancer, with more than eight out of 10 patients dying within five years.

>>More Lifestyle News

But whereas 40 years ago most cases were of squamous cell cancer which starts in the upper part of the oesophagus and is linked with smoking and drinking, today most cases are of adenocarcinoma, starting at the base of the oesophagus where the gullet meets the stomach.

Cases of adenocarcinoma have risen ten-fold over the past 40 years in the UK and it is now five times more common than squamous cell cancer, rates of which have remained stable.

Among white men, the UK incidence of adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus is the highest in the world.

Now a team led by scientists from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the US has found adenocarcinoma is linked with heartburn.

A series of genetic mutations in tissue samples taken from patients with this type of cancer suggest it is caused by acid reflux.

Gad Getz, of the Massachusetts General Hospital and a lead author of the study published in Nature Genetics, said: "We discovered a pattern of DNA changes that had not been seen before in any other cancer type."

His colleague, Adam Bass of Dana Farber and the Broad Institute, added: "Gastric reflux can produce this type of damage, suggesting that reflux may underlie this pattern of mutations."

The oesophagus has a sphincter at its base to prevent the acid in the stomach gurgling back into it, damaging the lining and causing heartburn.

In some men the sphincter ceases to work properly, a problem aggravated by obesity, allowing the lining to be eaten away which in turn may lead to cancer.

Men are almost three times more likely to develop adenocarcinoma than women partly because they have more severe reflux and because they are more likely to have excess weight around their waist rather than their hips - the apple vs pear shape - which increases the rate of reflux

. Overall rates of oesophageal cancer - squamous cell and adenocarcinoma combined - are still higher among French men than British men.

In Brittany it has been blamed on the "Calvados effect", the apple brandy made in that region.

The US scientists who sequenced sections of DNA in tissue samples taken from 149 patients with adenocarcinoma found 26 genes that were frequently mutated, indicating the cause was acid damage.

Dr Bass said: "Identifying the mutated genes within these tumours will help us understand the underlying biology.

"It also presents us with a slate of known genetic abnormalities that can some day be used to diagnose the disease at an early stage, classify tumours by the particular mutations, and ultimately develop treatment geared to precisely those mutations."

Topics:  cancer, genetics, health, obesity




Eight crews attend fire near Aldridge High

Bushfire near Aldridge State High School.

Right crews are working to contain a fire near Aldridge High.

Two NSW Men arrested over Mundubbera stabbing

Gary Ryan died on Tuesday after being stabbed multiple times. Police have launched a homicide investigation.

Two men have been arrested over the murder of Gary Ryan

Moran fights for title at Golden Gloves tournament

FOCUS: Hervey Bay boxer Katie Moran trains with Greg Atzori during an early morning session at Pialba.

How Katie Moran fell into fight sports.

Latest deals and offers

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

Gina Rodriguez relished dramatic change for new film

Jane the Virgin lead Gina Rodriguez

TV star shaved her hair for movie role

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa