Did You Know…nighttime eating can cause serious diseases—including cancer?
A habit of late-night snacking may leave you with more trouble than a few extra inches around your waist. Rising rates of acid reflux and related complications—including esophageal cancer—could be linked to later meal times.
Worse yet, common cures can do more harm than good. Not only do anti-reflux medications frequently fail to alleviate symptoms, but these drugs can also increase your risk of developing cancer.
Worth Billions in Dollars, but Zero in Benefits
More than 40% of U.S. adults are affected by acid reflux. That number is only rising, along with cases of esophageal cancer, which has surged by 500% since the 1970s.
The anti-reflux business is, not surprisingly, booming: combined profits from sales of prescribed and over-the-counter anti-reflux medication top $13 billion annually. According to the latest research, however, these treatments have little to no benefit.
The statistics on anti-reflux medications and cancer prevention are especially dire, according to a Danish study drawing from a pool of 9,883 patients diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus—a premalignant condition that frequently progresses to esophageal cancer.
The Danish team selected 140 high-risk cases to determine whether proton pump inhibitors (a common anti-reflux medication) had cancer-protective effects. The researchers found no indication that the PPIs helped to prevent cancer. Quite the opposite, in fact: long-term use of PPIs appeared to substantially elevate a person’s risk of cancer.
Do You Know the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?
Though some symptoms of acid reflux are well known, others are subtler and easy to overlook. Along with heartburn and indigestion, reflux can cause…
- Post-nasal drip
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness and chronic throat clearing
Airway reflux is often a “silent” condition, accompanied by none of the classic digestive indicators.
Dr. Jaime Koufman, a leading expert on reflux, has used dietary and lifestyle modifications to eliminate acid reflux from the lives of tens of thousands of patients over the last 35 years. The best way to treat reflux, according to Koufman, is to avoid eating for at least 3 hours prior to going to bed.
Why You Should Regret That Midnight Snack
Dr. Koufman believes that eating at later hours is the top reason for the skyrocketing frequency of reflux disease. In the United States, factors like longer work hours…post-work exercise…happy hour socializing…and snacking while watching television has created a culture of late-night eaters.
To make matters worse, late-night eating in the United States typically features large portions of over-processed foods containing excessive amounts of sugar and fat. Europeans also eat in the evening. Unlike Americans, however, they have few cases of reflux. Their secret? Probably portion control. A typical French bowl of ice cream contains a single scoop, whereas in the United States, the average is 3 supersized scoops.
Patients of Koufman reported that by eating earlier, they cleared up conditions that were seemingly unrelated to reflux, such as…
- Sleep apnea
An earlier dinnertime may require a major lifestyle overhaul, but evidence indicates doing so could pay off handsomely.