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Cancer from Bulimia?
August 2002

Q. Can you get any kind of cancer from being bulimic? Is it likely or not likely? I hear there is a high death rate associated with cancer in the mouth. Is this a type of cancer associated with being bulimic?

A. Bulimia is defined as episodes of binge eating followed by induced vomiting, or use of laxatives, as an extreme measure to attempt to control weight and body image. Bulimics know that there is something wrong with this behavior, but feel helpless to do anything about it. It is quite serious and can be a life-threatening condition. Effective treatment is available.

Symptoms are as follows:
1. Weight loss, fluctuation.
2. Binging done secretly.
3. Binge terminated by vomiting, laxatives, diuretics.
4. Long periods in the bathroom.
5. Mood fluctuations / depression -- especially following a binge.
6. Preoccupation with food, diet, weight, and fat.
7. Swollen parotid/salivary glands, puffy face, eroded enamel on
teeth and nails, abrasions on hands.
8. Realization that eating pattern is abnormal but inability to stop.

The disease is not associated with cancer. Help should be sought from your doctor to prevent the serious consequences and get appropriate help.



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