Purging May Cause Throat Cancer

throat examBarrett’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.

Check out this article about a young woman with a short history of bulimia and how she developed throat cancer.


36 Responses to “Purging May Cause Throat Cancer”

  1. Does this apply to my situation: I throw up about twice a month during my monthly cycle because it upsets my stomach so bad. It can’t be helped at all. Even if I don’t eat at all day the first day I will still throw up bile. This has been happening almost on a monthly basis for about a decade. Can this cause throat cancer? I can’t seem to get the vomiting under control even when I try.

  2. my throat feel if there is something stuck inside
    that is for quite a while. I struggle to eat
    my tongue is so swollen
    my lips on the inside is swollen also. I have a stomach run since Saturday. night. cry when I must eat. its really sore to swallow thr foof. its like my tongue is to big. my throat to small. my neck and head is so sore
    cause off this
    during night time when I sleep I need to look at the way I sleep ….otherwise I struggle with breathing. in the morning when I woke up my throat is still sore or numb. my tongue feel a little beter. but as soon as I eat my tongue start swell …….. I lost about 5 kg
    due to the fact rhat I struggle to eat
    when I look in the mirror my one side . off my throat is swollen. don’t have tonsils anymore
    please tell me whay I need to do.

  3. I have an issue with bn. I eat healthy and work out and continue to struggle to be happy with the way I look. Reading these articles makes me think how stupid I am to vomit. Depression is also something I struggle with. Anti drepresent medication make me gain weight.

  4. Emilia

    I am 29 years old and I have a history of being bulimic. In the times I had bulimia my throat often felt sore and painful. Now it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve overcome bulimia but my problems with throat persist. Mostly it’s the feeling of having a lump in a throat, feeling of tightness and heaviness in my throat and chest, sometimes I struggle to breathe. I also noticed my voice has slightly changed. I sometimes wake up at night needing to cough to clear my breathing. When I take a very deep breath I definitely feel some pain in the oesophagus. Please let me know if this is anything to be concerned about. Thank you.

    • Debbie King MS RD LD

      I am not a physician so cannot give you a diagnosis. I suggest that today you call and make an appointment with your primary care physician, or a gastroenterologist (specialist in the digestive track). No matter what the outcome, you are experiencing discomfort and it is important to take care of your health.
      My best to you,

  5. Bridget Jones

    Where can I get help for my excessive bulimia? Im a middle aged woman in my 30s and have been bulimic since the age of 8. I binge and purge at least 5 times per day and im now noticing my disease being passed to my children. How can i get help from this condition that has spiraled out of control?

    • Debbie King MS RD LD

      I appreciate your brave request. I would recommend you contact this website http://www.eddietitians.com/. This website offers a link to help you find a Registered Dietitian who specializes in Eating Disorders in your area. You should also share this information with your physician or other primary care provider as they also can provide resources for you.
      I encourage you to pursue your desire to find help.

  6. Sharron borg

    Hi, I have been taking methotrexate and humira as I have seronegative arthritis and been on these medal for over 5 years. I be sick on a daily routine and suffer with constant heartburn. My life revolves around me being sick. I have been to the doctors and they prescribe me gaviscon and other indigestion tablets but I am always being sick and feeling sick. I have made my throat bleed on many occasions and been to the doctors but they make me feel like I am moaning for no reason. I heard that being sick can cause cancer and it has scared me as I watched my friend go through throat cancer and what he had to go through and I am scared. Please help any advice appreciated…. SB

  7. I am 26 male I have been bulimic for 7 years knock on wood I haven’t had any problems but I’m worried about having throat cancer and I have talked to several people that have been doing it for 20 years with no problems even seen people on this website have it for several years is there a time frame of one you can get cancer and throw up immediately right after eating so doesn’t have time for my body to break down the food or have acid in it I’m just thinking I know I have cancer but I’ve gotten tested before this year and it was okay but I’m still freaking out

  8. I started binging and purging abot two years ago. About a year ago, I was able to get it under control. Today I had a relapse and I feel horrible, but after reading this I am concerned. Although it has been a while, should I be concerned about cancer or anything?

  9. I have never felt the need to take immediate action on my condition , I have been dealing with bn for over 6 years , I am currently 20 years old and I can’t seem to find the courage to speak to a physician about it . I have briefly mentioned it before and it seemed as if my physician showed little to no interest in what I had to say . Today I am horrified , I have finally came to terms with my sickness and the fact that I need help , however I am scared . I have dealt with bn and daily purging since the age of 14 . Recently I have had digestive issues and horrible acid reflex . How should I approach a physician so that I get the proper tests done in order to make sure I have not put myself at risk of having cancer ? I don’t want to sound extreme but I have no idea how to approach this situation.

  10. i’m currently 23. Last year, I purged daily for 3 months during the summer because i was binge eating.sometimes threw up 2-3 times a day depending on the binge and often times my throat would hurt for many days. ( i’ve struggled with my weight for a very long time and have never done much about it. however, i lost a great deal of weight after a car accident earlier in the year and was very keen on maintaining my new weight). i stopped purging for a few months, after i got my binge eating under control. in march, i ran a blood test because i was always very tired and got much slower when running. The results came out and my iron levels were much lower than the min threshold. the physician prescribe iron for a few months. i was too embarrassed to tell him that i had been purging over the summer.I still purge on occasion (maybe like once a month / 2 months) if i binge eat over dinner (i’m strict about not dining, however when i occasionally dine, i sometimes binge eat) . did i rupture my stomach? did i permanently damage it ? Am i still at risk of developing throat cancer?

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Marty Davey

Marty Davey is a Registered Dietitian and has a Masters degree in Food and Nutrition from Marywood University. She became a vegetarian in 1980 when she discovered that the French didn't want our meat products due to factory farming methods. She began studying nutrition while cleansing her diet to a totally plant-based lifestyle. She has a private practice specializing in assisting clients transitioning from the conventional Western foods to a plant-based regime.

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