As Bel Marra Health reports in its article, (http://www.belmarrahealth.com/cancer/could-you-be-at-risk-for-throat-cancer), heartburn can range in severity from mild occasional episodes, to frequent severe episodes that negatively affect your daily life. Heartburn occurs when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. Depending on the severity of acid reflux, taking over-the-counter antacids to temporarily relieve discomfort may be the simplest solution. But in most severe cases, prescription medications are necessary for symptom relief.
According to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a study looked at 631 patients that had squamous cell carcinoma of the throat and/or vocal cords and 1234 healthy control patients. They evaluated the self-reported history of heartburn and medication use of the participants. The researchers adjusted the results, controlling for race, gender, age, smoking, alcohol use, HPV16 seropositivity, education and body mass index. The results showed that the participants that had a history of frequent heartburn, and were neither heavy smokers nor drinkers, had a 78 percent increased risk of throat cancer or vocal cord cancer.
Patients that have frequent, severe heartburn and acid reflex are commonly prescribed medications such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid to help relieve their symptoms. The researchers found that these medications did not impact cancer risk at all. However, the researchers found that participants that used over-the-counter (OTC) antacids to relieve their symptoms lowered their cancer risk by 41 percent compared to those that didn’t use OTC antacids to relieve their heartburn.
The researchers noted that individuals who are usually prescribed medications for their acid reflux often have much more severe heartburn than those that just use OTC remedies. They caution people to not read too much into the fact that no correlation was found between prescription medications and a decreased cancer risk; it could just be that these patients have much more severe cases of heartburn and therefore more damage to the throat and neck.
This research shows that there is a relationship between frequent heartburn and an increased cancer risk. It’s important to consult a medical professional when suffering frequent bouts of heartburn. They can help to develop a treatment approach that may include OTC antacids in combination with prescription medications, which will help manage heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. By combining treatment options for acid reflux relief, this could be the only way to protect throat and vocal cords from cancer.
(SOURCE: Langevin, Scott M. et al. “Gastric Reflux Is an Independent Risk Factor for Laryngopharyngeal Carcinoma” American Association for Cancer Research. N.p., 5 April. 2013. Web.)
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