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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Heartburn caused by gastric reflux is a risk factor for laryngopharyngeal cancer

Gastric reflux can reach the upper airway, inducing cellular damage in the epithelial lining. This may be a risk factor for development of laryngopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma although the medical literature is inconclusive. Frequent heartburn caused by gastric reflux was found to increase the risk for development of throat cancer, and over-the-counter antacids medication may provide protection from it, according to a new study  published in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
Researchers from Brown University studied heartburn incidence and medication use in 631 patients with squamous cell cancers of the throat and vocal cords who were not heavy smokers or drinkers, matching them with 1,234 healthy controls.
The investigator found that individuals who had reported a history of frequent heartburn were 78% more likely to have cancer than those who did not. Those with frequent heartburn who took antacids reduced their risk for cancer by 41%, compared with those whose heartburn was not treated.
There was no reduced risk among those taking proton pump inhibitors (i. e., Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Aciphex) or histamine H2 receptor antagonists (i.e., Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac). However, this may be because those who took such medications were likely to have had severe acid reflux, and not because those drugs are ineffective. The authors recommended that further studies are needed to clarify the possible chemopreventive role of antacid use for patients with gastric reflux.

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