It's thought that chronic irritation of your esophagus may contribute to the DNA changes that cause esophageal cancer. Factors that cause irritation in the cells of your esophagus and increase your risk of esophageal cancer include:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Having bile reflux
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Having difficulty swallowing because of an esophageal sphincter that won't relax (achalasia)
  • Drinking very hot liquids
  • Eating few fruits and vegetables
  • Eating foods preserved in lye, such as lutefisk, a Nordic recipe made from whitefish, and some olive recipes
  • Having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Being obese
  • Having precancerous changes in the cells of the esophagus (Barrett's esophagus)
  • Undergoing radiation treatment to the chest or upper abdomen
  • Smoking

Other risk factors include

  • Being male
  • Being between the ages of 45 and 70
May. 12, 2011