Barrett’s esophagus is a disease usually seen in adults over 40 with GERD [gastroesophageal reflux disease] or acid reflux disease. Unfortunately Barrett’s disease significantly increases the risk of developing a deadly cancer in the esophagus. However, a teenager with the eating disorder, bulimia, may be fast forwarding the body into creating the conditions for Barrett’s by exposing the delicate cells of the esophagus to stomach acids meant for tougher intestinal cells.
Bulimia is defined as secretive excessive eating, or binge eating, followed by purging of this food by forced vomiting. It is the vomiting that exposes the esophagus to repeated, unnatural stomach acid. Frequent or habitual vomiting damages the cells in the esophagus, even after a relatively short time, causing the esophagus to stop reproducing esophageal cells and making intestinal cells instead. The esophagus repair cells are actually stem cells which can create almost any cell in the body. To protect the esophagus from stomach acid the body makes intestinal cells. It is these intestinal cells in the esophogus which can open the gate for throat cancer.