A recent study highlights the
advantage of consuming plant-based food in reducing the risk of highly lethal Esophageal
Squamous Cell Cancer.
Esophageal Squamous Cell
, a major type of Esophageal cancer that affects the inner lining
cells of the esophagus or the food pipe. The symptoms associated with this type
of malignancy include pain while swallowing food and regurgitation, i.e.
backward flow of the food.
The study conducted in the
high-risk region of Iran for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, assessed the
dietary intake of around 47 patients who were diagnosed with this cancer within
six months and 96 in the control group, using a semi quantitative food
frequency questionnaire. The participants were adults with normal BMI and hence
the results are independent of risk due to adiposity.
The other factors that were
considered in the study included the socio-demographic details, smoking
history, eating habits, symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease and family
history of cancer.
Experts, after analyzing the
dietary intake of the participants, concluded that the risk of Esophageal
cancer reduces with increased intake of nutrients, like carbohydrates, dietary
fibers, folate, vitamin A, β-carotene, vitamin C,
which are abundant in plants based food.
While, the risk increases with
higher consumptions of saturated fatty acids, discretionary calories, sodium
Discretionary calories are the extra calories consumed in addition
to basic nutritional needs. These are mainly derived from solid fat and added
sugar, found in food like cheese, meat, soda, etc.
The researchers observed that the
participants with higher carbohydrate and dietary fiber intake had 78% and 71%
reduced risk of esophageal squamous cell cancer, respectively. Folate,
selenium and vitamin E were found to be most protective micronutrients against
damages to esophagus,
with folate and vitamin E associated with 98%
reduction in risk of this cancer.
Along with these nutrients, intake of unsaturated fatty acids, commonly known as the omega-3 fatty acids were reported to cut down the risk by 68% among the participants.
Though the association of nutrient intake and Esophageal
cancer risk had been clearly analyzed, the experts suggest that further studies
which evaluate the dietary intake before cancer diagnosis are needed to clarify
whether changes in dietary practices and/or vitamin and mineral supplementation
can reduce the incidence of this cancer.
Macronutrients, vitamins and minerals intake and risk of esophageal squamous
cell carcinoma: a case-control study in Iran; Mahsa Jessri et al; BMC Nutrition