Throat Cancer Causes Risk Gerd

Recent studies have been exploring a possible connection between gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD) and throat cancer, seeking to determine whether or not constant reflux of stomach acid could cause cellular damage that could ultimately lead to the proliferation of malignant cancer cells in the throat.

While studies are still in the early phases, evidence suggests that those who suffer from prolonged, chronic heartburn over many years are at an increased risk for developing adenocarcinoma, a specific type of throat cancer.

What is GERD?

GERD is more commonly known as acid reflux, a condition in which the liquid contents of a person’s stomach push back up through the digestive tract, potentially damaging the delicate lining of the esophagus. The stomach acid in this liquid not only damages the throat cells, but it also causes discomfort when it comes into contact with the esophagus.

GERD, a chronic condition and can afflict a person for a lifetime, can occur as either an uncomplicated or complicated condition. In an uncomplicated case, symptoms may include:

  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • regurgitation.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit his doctor, get properly diagnosed and follow a treatment regimen, whether that includes lifestyle changes or prescription medication.

Complications that can arise from GERD include:

  • Barrett’s esophagus, a condition characterized by a shift from normal cellular structure to precancerous or cancerous cells in the esophagus (This condition occurs in approximately 10 percent of patients with GERD.)
  • stomach ulcers
  • strictures, caused from the shrinking of scar tissue produced from healed ulcers.

Once a person is properly diagnosed with GERD, he will have the opportunity to undergo an endoscopy to watch for Barrett’s esophagus and to keep an eye on any changes that may indicate throat cancer is developing.

GERD Diet

Medicinal options for treating GERD range from over-the-counter remedies to prescription medications. However, one of the most effective ways of coping with GERD is by making healthy lifestyle changes, particularly to one’s diet.

Eating smaller meals helps by keeping the stomach at a reasonable size. Because stomach distension can result in more acid reflux, big meals should be avoided. Another important tip is to eat dinner earlier so that the stomach has time to digest and empty before bed since acid reflux can be more pronounced at night. Also, consider sleeping in a more upright position, to help gravity keep liquids and acid in the stomach.

The actual foods a person eats can also impact the severity of the GERD symptoms. Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, as well as treats such as chocolate or even peppermint, can encourage conditions for reflux. Fatty and spicy foods can also create problems, as they overtax your digestive system, exacerbating the GERD symptoms.

Antacids, the classic remedy for heartburn and GERD, may actually compound the underlying problem. When antacids are used, they suppress the acid in the stomach. However, once the effect wears off, the body might seek to rebalance, or rebound, by upping its acid production.

If you suffer from chronic heartburn or think you may have GERD, be sure to discuss treatment options with your doctor, as some self-help methods may be adding fuel to the fire in your stomach.

Resources

Answers.com (2007). Throat Cancer. Retrieved June 21, 2007, from http://www.answers.com/topic/throat-cancer.

Marks, Jay W.(2007). Esophogeal Cancer Linked to Heartburn. Retrieved June 21, 2007, from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=8796.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (2007). Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease. Retrieved June 21, 2007, from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=57772.