Tue, Sep 04, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Years of heartburn turns into esophageal cancer

Lee Chi-fang, a doctor in Keelung General Hospital’s Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, gestures and explains the symptoms of acid reflux in Keelung on Aug. 29.

Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Liberty Times
照片: 自由時報記者吳亮儀

A 40-year-old businessman from Keelung who often drank stimulating beverages such as coffee and tea and who was also a smoker, had been plagued with gastroesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux, or heartburn) for several years. Several days ago, he was having trouble swallowing and felt like something was stuck in his upper abdomen, so he decided to see a doctor. After conducting a biopsy, they discovered that he had esophageal cancer.

Lee Chi-fang, a doctor at Keelung General Hospital’s Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, says that the patient is a typical office worker, but that he was under a lot of stress and was smoking a lot of cigarettes and relying on coffee and tea to pep himself up. After suffering from acid reflux and inflammation in the lining of his esophagus for many years, the condition only worsened because it was left untreated.

Lee also says that abnormal living habits, not watching one’s diet, eating too many spicy, oily or fried foods, chocolate and things containing caffeine, are all likely to cause the sphincter in the esophagus to loosen and lose its ability to tighten and block acid from coming up after eating, which is what causes acid reflux. The doctor says that if you feel a burning sensation in your chest several times a week, wake up during the night in pain, or are suddenly losing weight and have black stool, you should see a gastroenterology and hepatology specialist as soon as possible and not put off treatment. People with obesity, or who are pregnant, or have diabetes are more prone to acid reflux.

Lee suggests that people with acid reflux avoid bending over too much right after finishing a meal. He says that they should also wait three to four hours before laying down to go to bed, and that it is better to sleep on their left side. Raising the head of the bed slightly also helps control reflux, Lee says.


1. smoker n.

吸菸者 (xi1 yan1 zhe3)

例: About a third of the global male population are smokers, and smoking-related diseases kill one in 10 adults every year.


2. biopsy n.

切片檢查法 (qie1 pian4 jian3 cha2 fa3)

例: A biopsy usually involves a pathologist examining tissue under a microscope.


3. pep up v. phr.

提神 (ti2 shen2)

例: Julia drank three espressos to pep her up so she wouldn’t fall asleep during the test.


Lee also says that the most important thing is to pay attention to controlling one’s weight because being overweight is one of the main causes of acid reflux.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)







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