Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chronic Heartburn May Raise Odds for Throat Cancer


78 percent increase in the risk for cancer in people who experience heavy heartburn

People who suffer from frequent gastric reflux may be at increased risk for cancers of the throat and vocal cords even if they don't smoke or drink alcohol, a new study says.

Stomach acid can reach into the upper airway, inducing cellular damage in the epithelial lining. This condition is believed to be a risk factor for development of laryngopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (LPSCC).

But simple antacids appear to lower the risk

Interestingly, common over-the-counter antacids seemed to protect against these cancers while prescription medications such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid didn't, the researchers said.

The researchers led by Scott Langevin of the Brown University in Providence found that the protective effect of antacids was independent of smoking, drinking or infection with HPV*.

While it uncovered an association between heartburn and cancer of the throat and vocal cords, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Further studies are needed to clarify this possible chemopreventive role of antacid.


The report was published online May 23, 2013 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention:

Langevin SM et al. Gastric Reflux Is an Independent Risk Factor for Laryngopharyngeal Carcinoma. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 22(6); 1–8.

* Since some head and neck cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the researchers tested all the participants for antigens to the virus.


For more information on throat cancer by the American Cancer Society.

The University of Maryland Medical Center offers tips for the prevention of heartburn

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