Residents of the U.K. who face high alcohol consumption and obesity rates also top in oesophageal cancer, according to a new survey.
The data, compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund using World Health Organisation estimates, showed that 6.4 out of every 100,000 people in the UK develops oesophageal cancer. The figure is nearly double that of the European average, which stands at 3.3.
Experts believe that a significant portion of the 8,000-odd cases reported every year in the UK could be prevented, should potential patients make lifestyle changes such as cutting back on alcohol, tobacco use and follow a healthy diet.
"The fact that the UK has the highest rate of oesophageal cancer in Europe is a real concern because it is a type of cancer that has a particularly low survival rate," said Dr Rachel Thompson, deputy head of science for WCRF.
"It is also a particularly preventable type of cancer and most oesophageal cases in the UK could be prevented through a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. The problem is that we have the highest obesity rate in Europe and we drink more alcohol than the European average," said Thompson.
"The good news is that not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol and eating more of a variety of fruits and vegetables will not just reduce your risk of oesophageal cancer. It will also reduce your risk of other types of cancer, as well as being good for health generally," she added.
"When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is more likely to be successful - so if you notice an unusual change in your body, and in the case of oesophageal cancer, difficulty in swallowing, hoarseness or heartburn, it's a good idea to see your doctor," said Jessica Harris, Health Information Manager at Cancer Research UK, according to the Guardian.
Rates of Oesophageal Cancer per 100,000 People
1 Mongolia 18.7
2 Malawi 17.4
3 South African Republic 17.3
4 China 16.7
5 Lesotho 14.6
1 UK 6.4
2 Ireland 5.9
3 The Netherlands 5.8
4 Belgium 4.9
5 Luxembourg 4.2