Esophageal Research Reaching New Heights with Help from the Kardashians

Rachel Morrell

Esophageal Research Reaching New Heights with Help from the Kardashians

The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has established a new center named in memory of Robert G. Kardashian that will focus on holistic, patient-centered treatment, research and education related to esophagus disorders.

The Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health will research gastroenterology, oncology, anesthesiology, surgery, pathology, radiology and pediatrics. The new facility joins the Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center and the Manoukian Division’s Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness Program to create unique and innovative treatment plans for patients.

The late Robert G. Kardashian was a successful businessman and attorney in the Los Angeles area. Mr. Kardashian gained international attention when he defended O.J. Simpson in 1995, but he is perhaps most known for being the father of Kim, Khloe, Rob and Kourtney Kardashian who are on the reality TV series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

In July 2003, Kardashian was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He lived only two more months, and died on September 30, 2003, at age 59.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health took place on April 16 during Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month. Kim Kardashian West stated, “Our family is proud to pay tribute to our father by partnering with UCLA Health to establish the Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health… We hope to save lives and help the community for many years to come in honor of our father” (UCLA Newsroom).

What Causes Esophageal Cancer?

Incidence of esophagus disorders and esophageal cancer has increased significantly in the past decade. This cancer is difficult to treat because it has few symptoms, yet it is aggressive and fast-growing.

One of the highest risk factors for esophageal cancer is a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, (GERD), or chronic acid reflux. Consistent exposure to gastric acid damages the lining of the esophagus. As the tissue heals, the cells may change in an attempt to protect the throat. This condition is called dysplasia and it increases your risk for esophageal cancer. 

Other risk factors for esophageal cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Having precancerous cells in the esophagus (Barrett’s esophagus)

Manage Your Risk Factors for Esophageal Disease

One of the most effective ways to prevent esophageal cancer and other digestive diseases is by managing your risk factors. Quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight will lower your risk for heartburn or acid reflux, a leading cause of GERD.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans suffer from heartburn at least once per month, and 15 million experience symptoms every day. Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is caused by a weakening in the lower esophageal sphincter.

If you experience acid reflux regularly, you need the expertise of a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist. Our GI doctors are equipped to diagnose and treat GERD and heartburn so you can find relief. Prompt treatment of acid reflux is the best way to prevent esophagus disorders and esophageal cancer.

Click here to find a gastroenterologist in your area.

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