Intermittent Fasting and Esophageal Cancer- is there a link?

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Having been in the peak of physical fitness for a while getting a diagnosis of esophageal cancer recently was totally unexpected and to be perfectly honest completely devastating. I know that cancer can affect anyone from anywhere at any time but the journalist inside me can't help but try to rationalise and understand what has caused this most unwelcome disease.

To that end I would be grateful if anyone has any thoughts as to what changes in their own lifestyle might have contributed to their diagnosis. In my own case during the last year I changed from drinking probably weekly (accompanied by a few splurges of binge drinking) to being practically tee-total. I increased my exercise regime to incorporate four or five weekly HiiT sessions. Lastly I changed my diet to incorporate 5 days of intermittent fasting whereby I would eat very low carb, high protein, moderate fat food and drink. I would only eat between 1.30pm and 7.30pm.

I have suffered from infrequent bouts of acid reflux/chronic indigestion in years gone which has probably contributed to my current predicament but this had been eradicated by my new healthy lifestyle.

Ruling out the exercise and sobriety as culprits I am wondering if the fasting might have had an adverse affect on my gut microbiome? 

Please reply if any of you have had any similar experiences of a lifestyle change that has inadvertently affected your health.

Thank you all for your time



    Hi Anthony

    I'm not a member of this forum but I noticed that your post hadn't had any replies yet. Responding to you will 'bump' it back to the top of the discussion list again.

    Wishing you all the best

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     "Never regret a day in your life, good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience"

  • Hi Bob tbh I really don’t think there is any one thing. At the support group in the hospital my husband had his surgery for this cancer there were lots of different people who all had different lifestyles. Some tea total, some very fit and healthy, some vegans, lots of women, where apparently it is generally thought of as a man’s cancer and some young and some old. For me I think our environment has a lot to do with it as the land fills and gases which pollute everything and every where. Plus of course processed food.

    good luck for your recovery.


  • Hi Anthony,

    I'm so sorry that you are on this journey. It is quite a roller coaster. Like you I had bouts of indigestion (some quite bad over the years) and in the year before I was diagnosed I thought I was managing it better as there wasn't much. Unfortunately I think the damage had been done and I think it had gone silent. No one wanted to answer my question (understandably) of how long the cancer had been there. I'm guessing it had been there quite a while. Could it be the same for you? Could it have been there before you made the changes to a healthier lifestyle? Certainly being fitter and healthier will help with treatment. 

    I've not done the research on this but I can't see how intermittent fasting could be a contributory factor. I've not read anything about this but I must confess I've not looked specifically at this. It might be worth looking at Tim Spectres work on the gut microbiome. 

    For me I think it's years of indigestion,  being overweight,  effect of menopause on my immune system, food intensities and probably genetics. There is also mounting evidence of the negative impact of environmental pollution - I think there was an article in New Scientist and/or Nature about this. 

    Take care 


  • Thanks for the reply Jackie. My analytical mind tries to rationalise everything I suppose. You mentioned landfills and processed food which might be true for some but I live in a protected area of natural beauty and eat everything freshly made. It's interesting and useful to have different experiences which we can all learn from. Thanks again Slight smile


  • Hi

    I think they're finding microplastics in the Marianna Trench - deepest part of the ocean. No part of our planet is safe from pollution. I do wonder if we're the canaries in the coal mine so to speak while cancer rates rising in much younger age groups. 

  • Hi Suzy

    I think you're probably right. Even though  I've been uber good with diet and exercise over the last 12 months I was prone to eating late at night with the subsequent indigestion for a few years prior to that. And yes I believe it had been there for quite some time as I had all the "red flags" for it, lots of belching etc. I'd love to hear more of your own story if you don't mind sharing?

    Thank You


  • Hi Anthony 

    Yes sure. My indigestion started when I was pregnant with my son. I was prescribed gaviscon during pregnancy. I was quite fit and ate healthily. I don't really drink and I've never smoked. I went into menopause in my early forties. I was working 50hours a week setting up and running my business alongside raising my son. I was determined not to miss out on any of his growing up which was one of the big reasons for me working for myself. Of course this meant I got into a pattern of not exercising enough and putting on weight. I also have some mild digestive issues - I struggle to absorb nutrients and so I've been anemic for years. At one point I had a really bad vit D deficiency.  I think the combination of it all increased my risk massively.  There are also 3 generations of breadt cancer in my family but all three of those family members smoked.

    I was finally diagnosed with oesophageal cancer at age 49. T3N1M0 I finished 4 cycles of FLOT, oesophagectomy (with some mild complications) and 4 cycles of post operative FLOT. For the fatigue was truly the worst part of chemo. Its been a year now 

  • Sorry I accidentally pressed reply before I finished. 

    I walked 6 miles the other day. I'm back to work and ferrying a teenager around. 

    I have friends who are onto their second or third primary cancer! I once met a lady during treatment who was being treated for her third primary cancer.  I loved her attitude! She was getting impatient because there was a delay in getting her chemo started and she had lots of things to do that day. She said as long as you have a good surgeon and good chemo you'll be fine. I've never forgotten what she said. 

    I'm armchair scientist so I did a lot of reading in the early days. I've stopped thst now snd I'm just getting on with it. I've decided asking why me just drives me crazy. I've decided to go with conventional wisdom backed up by science - eat a variety of whole foods, less carbs as you get older, exercise preferrably in nature, don't smoke,  drink less, socialise and do fun things, meditate (still working on this one), deal with any health problems early, keep your brain active. At the moment im working on loosing the excess weight (sigh! I didn't loose tyst much during treatment).

    Take care,