24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500
Regular Hours: M-Fri 8am - 5pm
Every 3rd Thurs of the Month - Extended Hours Until 7 pm

Medical Disorders
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Scientists Find Clues to Why AstraZeneca's Vaccine May Cause ClotsYou've Got Fungi in Your Lungs, and That's OKNon-Emergency Surgeries Are Rebounding, But Backlogs RemainPandemic Has Put Many Clinical Trials on HoldSupply of J&J COVID Vaccine to Drop 86 Percent Next WeekStressed, Exhausted: Frontline Workers Faced Big Mental Strain in PandemicNIH Starts Trial Looking at Rare Allergic Reactions to COVID VaccinesNot Just Keyboards: Many Types of Workers Can Develop Carpal TunnelBlack Women Are Dying of COVID at Much Higher Rates Than White MenTwo Vaccines Show Effectiveness Against Emerging COVID VariantsWomen More Prone to Concussion's Long-Term Harms: StudyCOVID Cases Climb in the Midwest as British Variant Takes Hold in U.S.'Heart-in-a-Box' Can Be Lifesaving, Matching Up Distant Donors With PatientsNo Proof COVID Vaccines Can Trigger Guillain-Barré SyndromeFor People With PAD, Exercise Can Be Tough But RewardingPublic Lost Trust in CDC During COVID Crisis: Poll1 in 3 COVID Survivors Struggle With Mental Health Issues Months LaterA Few People With COVID Went a Crowded Bar: Here's What HappenedNearly 8 in 10 School, Child Care Staff Have Gotten at Least 1 Dose of COVID Vaccine: CDCModerna COVID Vaccine Offers Protection for at Least 6 Months: StudyStrain of COVID Care Has Many Health Professionals Looking for an ExitCOVID Shot Earlier in Pregnancy Better for Baby: StudyDoctors' Group Says Antibiotics Can Be Taken for Shorter PeriodsIf You've Had COVID, One Vaccine Jab Will Do: StudyAbout 40,000 U.S. Children Have Lost a Parent to COVID-19Study Refutes Theory That Blood Type Affects COVID RiskHow Willing Are Americans to Donate COVID Vaccines to Other Countries?Got Your COVID Vaccine? Don't Stop Being Cautious, Experts SayCOVID Drove 23% Spike in U.S. Deaths In 2020Faster-Spreading COVID Variant Expanding in United StatesWhen Will America's Kids Get Their COVID Vaccines?AHA News: Why You Should Pay Attention to InflammationMany Recovering COVID Patients Show Signs of Long-Term Organ DamageCOVID Fears Mean More Cancers Are Being Diagnosed at Later StagesSome Hospitalized COVID Patients Develop SeizuresCan Vaccinations Stop COVID Transmission? College Study Aims to Find OutCDC Confirms COVID as Third Leading Cause of Death in 2020Research Reveals How Aspirin Helps Prevent Colon CancerPfizer Says Its COVID Vaccine Is Very Effective in Kids as Young as 12AHA News: The Secret to Good Health Is No Secret. So Why Is It So Hard to Achieve?'Couch Potato' Lifestyles Cause Up to 8% of Global Deaths: StudyHave to Travel During Spring Break? Here's How to Stay SafeNew Coronavirus Can Also Infect Cells in the MouthBiden, Top Health Officials Warn of Risk of Another COVID SurgeAHA News: Black Young Adults Face Higher Stroke Risk Than Their White PeersReal-World Proof That Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Slash COVID InfectionsStudy Ties Gum Disease to High Blood PressureSmoking Rates High Among Surgery PatientsBiden Administration Working on 'Vaccine Passport' InitiativeSpring Activity Can Sometimes Bring Stress Fractures
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics


Chronic Heartburn Raises Odds for Cancers of Larynx, Esophagus

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Feb 22nd 2021

new article illustration

MONDAY, Feb. 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- People with chronic heartburn may face increased risks of several rare types of cancer, a large U.S. government study shows.

Researchers found that among more than 490,000 Americans aged 50 and up, those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) had about twice the risk of developing cancers of the esophagus or larynx (also known as the voice box).

GERD, or acid reflux, occurs when stomach acids chronically escape into the esophagus, which is the muscular tube connecting the throat and the stomach. The most common symptom is heartburn.

The condition is exceedingly common, affecting an estimated 20% of Americans, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

GERD has long been established as a risk factor for esophageal adenocarcinoma, which, in the United States, is the most common type of tumor arising in the esophagus.

The new study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Cancer, links GERD to a second type of esophageal cancer -- called squamous cell carcinoma -- as well as laryngeal cancer, which arises in the voice box.

Experts stressed that the absolute risk is low: The vast majority of people with GERD will never develop the cancers, all of which are fairly rare.

"Our findings should not alarm people diagnosed with GERD," said Christian Abnet, a researcher with the U.S. National Cancer Institute who led the study.

However, worldwide, squamous cell carcinoma is actually the much more common form of esophageal cancer, he noted, which is one reason why investigating any link to GERD is important.

Why would heartburn matter when it comes to cancer?

The esophagus is not used to the "caustic" substances dwelling in the stomach and small intestine, including acids and digestive enzymes, Abnet explained.

The longstanding theory around adenocarcinoma is that chronic exposure to those substances may damage the esophageal tissue in a way that occasionally leads to cancer.

In fact, the NIH says, about 10% to 15% of GERD patients have reflux severe enough to cause abnormalities in the esophageal lining, known as Barrett's esophagus. And of people with Barrett's, the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma is about 0.5% per year.

It's possible, Abnet said, that similar mechanisms could also contribute to squamous cell carcinoma in the esophagus and to laryngeal cancer.

Whether treating GERD cuts those cancer risks "remains an open question," he said.

In the United States, he noted, the major drivers of the cancers studied here are smoking and heavy drinking.

"So avoiding those exposures is the most important preventive measure," Abnet said.

The findings are based on more than 490,600 U.S. adults who were between the ages of 50 and 71 at the outset. Nearly one-quarter had GERD.

Over about 16 years, more than 900 participants were diagnosed with esophageal adenocarcinoma, while about 300 developed the squamous cell form. Meanwhile, 876 people were diagnosed with laryngeal cancer.

On average, Abnet's team found, people with GERD were about twice as likely to develop any of the three cancers as people without GERD. That was after accounting for smoking, drinking habits and body weight.

Peter Campbell, scientific director of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society, called the study "solid."

There are no standard screening tests for the cancers. But Campbell said people with GERD can be aware of the potential symptoms, which include: trouble swallowing, chest pain, hoarseness or voice changes, chronic cough and weight loss.

"It's important to note that having those signs or symptoms doesn't necessarily mean a person has cancer at one of these organ sites," Campbell stressed.

But, he said, anyone with GERD who notices those symptoms should talk to their doctor.

Similarly, Abnet said people with GERD symptoms should ask their doctor about lifestyle changes and/or medications that could help.

The lifestyle tactics for managing GERD include eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol, and shedding excess weight.

As it happens, Abnet noted, those same measures can help curb the risks of many different types of cancer.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has an overview of GERD.

SOURCES: Christian Abnet, PhD, MPH, division of cancer epidemiology and genetics, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Md.; Peter Campbell, PhD, scientific director, epidemiology research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Cancer, Feb. 22, 2021, online