Esophageal Cancer

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Several dietary compounds, including fruits and vegetables [12-14], green tea [12, 15], vitamin C [12] and zinc [12, 16], have been suggested as protective for esophageal cancer. Fruit and vegetables are postulated to decrease the production of nitrosamines and modulate the endogenous antioxidant systems [12-14]. Suboptimal fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a lower intake of dietary fiber and phytochemicals. These foods may provide site-specific benefits. For example, phytochemicals may be beneficial in gastric cancer prevention, whereas fiber is important in the sequestration and removal of procarcinogens in the colon and rectum [12].

The chief component of green tea, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) appears to have several mechanisms of action, including intracellular antioxidant, inhibition of procarcinogen formation and suppression of angiogenesis and cancer cell proliferation [15]. Green tea consumption may afford protection against the development of a number of GI cancers, including esophageal cancer [15]. Dietary substances that have been linked with an increased risk of esophageal cancer include alcohol, red meat, simple carbohydrates and dietary fat.

Smoked, broiled and charred foods and those rich in nitrites contain procarcinogens and carcinogens. Dietary intake of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a family of toxicants found in cigarette smoke and contaminated foodstuffs, constitutes a major source of exposure in humans. PAHs have been found to be highly carcinogenic in laboratory animals with implications in breast, lung and colon cancers in humans [17]. Simple carbohydrate [18, 19] and red meat consumption [20] has been linked with production of nitrosamines, a possible procarcinogen. Similarly dietary fat [21] and red meat consumption [12, 20] is associated with increased intake of hetero-cyclic amines, another possible procarcinogen.

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