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Carbonated Drinks Linked to Esophageal Cancer

( [email protected] ) May 22, 2004 09:16 AM EDT

A recent study suggests a rise in consumption of fizzy drinks could be to blame for some cancers of the esophagus.

Consumption had increased five-fold in five decades

Researchers found consumption of carbonated drinks had increased five-fold in the US in the last 50 years. They linked this to a six-fold increase in esophageal cancer in white men—top consumers of carbonated drinks.

The team found the same trend in the UK and Australia, where consumption has also increased. In the UK 7,200 people a year are diagnosed with esophageal cancer—up 65% in the last 30 years. But in countries like China and Japan, where carbonated drink consumption is much lower, there was no rise in cancers affecting the esophagus.

Acid reflux may be to blame

Research suggests that carbonated drinks cause the stomach to distend, which makes it more likely that its contents will flow back into the esophagus. Because the stomach contents tend to be acidic, they irritate the lining of the esophagus—a phenomenon which has been linked to the development of cancer.

The findings were presented to a Digestive Disease Week conference of gastro-intestinal specialists in New Orleans.