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Vitamin C, E supplements may fight gastric or esophageal cancer

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By David Liu, PHD

Thursday March 15, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Taking vitamin C, E and selenium may help drastically reduce risk of  death from gastric cancer (stomach cancer) and esophageal cancer, according to a study published in the Jan 2012 issue of Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study led by Jun-Ling Ma and colleagues found that those gastric cancer or esophageal cancer patients who took vitamin C, E and antioxidative selenium supplements during a 15-year study were 50 percent less likely to die from the cancers.

An early study called the Shangdong Intervention Trial showed that antibiotic treatment for Helicobacter pylori reduced the risk of precancerous gastric lesions while oral supplementation with gastric extract and oil (garlic treatment) or vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium (vitamin treatment) did not, say the authors.

In the 14.7 year follow-up study, the researchers found garlic and vitamin treatments were linked with non-statistically significant reductions in gastric cancer incidence and mortality.  

Vitamin treatment alone was correlated with statistically significantly fewer deaths from gastric or esophageal cancer, the authors reported.

Gastric cancer also called stomach cancer  is expected to be diagnosed in 21,320 men and women in the United States in  2012 and the disease and its complications are expected to kill 10,540 people in the same year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The possible risk factors for gastric cancer include family history, infections by Helicbacter pylori, having a polyp larger than 2 centimeters in the stomach, chronic inflammation and swelling in the stomach (chronic atrophic gastritis), pernicious anemia and smoking.

The symptoms of stomach cancer include abdominal fullness or pain, which may occur even after eating a small meal, dark stools, difficulty swallowing, excessive belching, general decline in health, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weakness or fatigue and weight loss.

Treatments are the same old modalities, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.  They likely can't cure the disease, but may improve symptoms and may prolong survival.

Something can be done to prevent or reduce risk of death from stomach cancer.  Possible preventatives or protectatives against the disease include fasting, avoiding meat and sugary food, using a low salt diet, getting rid of H.pylori infection, using a vegan diet that is featured with lots of antiangiogenic foods, eating dinner early, taking high doses of vitamin C and D, maybe vitamin B17 and other alternative treatments.

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