Can Bulimia Cause Cancer or Other Disabilities?

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To those struggling with bulimia nervosa, it can be easy to deny that they are putting their bodies at great risk when they engage in behaviors. However, someone in the depths of an eating disorder may not realize just how damaging the results can be in several different areas. Can bulimia cause cancer or other hazardous health problems? We explore what medical conditions can occur as a result of being bulimic. Trellis Recovery Centers provides the highest quality, evidence-based treatment at our residential facility for men and women. We help identify ill health effects caused by bulimia and design a program that specifically targets each person’s needs.

Can Bulimia Cause Cancer? 

Studies are still being done, but some have shown that one of the alarming potential effects of bulimia is developing esophageal cancer. This condition is often associated with smoking tobacco products, but it can develop from other causes, too. While not all the data is in yet, a definite causal risk for developing cancer related to bulimia has been established.

People with bulimia typically engage in self-induced vomiting on a regular basis. The process of throwing up sends stomach acid to the throat, which can cause microtrauma in the esophageal mucosa. These little tears can end up contributing to the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease. This type of damage has been known to be associated with esophageal cancer. This type of cancer may not fully develop for several years, increasing the urgency for people with bulimia to get proper medical treatment before this happens. 

How Does Bulimia Nervosa Affect the Throat? 

Damage that can be done to the throat by having bulimia includes more than just a potential increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. It can also cause gastroesophageal reflux disease that, even if it does not lead to cancer, can cause damage. As well, repetitive vomiting can cause the esophagus to burst. Other damage done specifically to the esophagus can include bleeding, developing ulcers or sores, and laryngopharyngeal reflux. Other ways bulimia affects the throat include difficulty talking and pain that accompanies swallowing.

Additional Physical Ailments Caused by Bulimia 

Besides increasing the risk for cancer and other throat-related illnesses, bulimia can also cause a person to experience other medical conditions. 

These include:

  • Dehydration
  • Kidney failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart failure
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Intestinal obstruction, perforation, or infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Disruption or loss of periods in females

Because of the vast risk of medical maladies that can develop when someone has bulimia, seeking treatment as soon as possible is important. While some damage can be reversed, some conditions may be permanent. When this happens, getting medical treatment can help the person manage the damage and prevent any more from occurring.

Can You Get Throat Cancer After Starting Recovery from Bulimia? 

Understanding that the answer to, “Can bulimia cause cancer?”” is that it most likely can contribute to it, brings up another question. Can you get throat cancer after you begin recovery from bulimia? It is possible for the damage done to be irreversible or still put a person at an increased risk of developing cancer. However, a lot of factors contribute to what happens, which makes it difficult to provide an exact answer for any specific person. Things that influence a person’s chances of developing throat cancer even after they have stopped using bulimic behaviors include their genetics, their health history, and the severity of their eating disorder. 

People getting help for bulimia before it can cause this type of throat cancerTreatment Options for Bulimia Nervosa 

Treatment for bulimia typically starts with attending a residential program that specializes in helping people overcome eating disorders. This type of treatment center offers several therapy modalities that create opportunities for people to understand the underlying reasons they developed bulimia. From there, they can develop healthy coping skills and relearn their relationships with food and their bodies. 

Common types of therapy that help people with eating disorders include:

Contact Our Bulimia Nervosa Treatment Center at Trellis Recovery in Los Angeles, CA

Do you live with bulimia and want to know what steps to take to begin recovery and regain your physical and mental health? Trellis Recovery Centers created a multi-disciplinary program for men and women that goes above and beyond what many centers offer. We provide an oasis at our facility that allows you to leave the stressors of your daily life behind and focus on healing. Our dedicated staff of eating disorder-trained professionals work with you to find a way for you to change your mindset and no longer use bulimic behaviors.

If you would like to talk about how we can help treat your bulimia and help you restart your life, please visit our admissions page now. We can answer your questions and discuss options for using your insurance plan to cover the cost of treatment.