(Ralph Flores) People who over-eat should rein in their eating habits this new year, warns a study. Researchers from the Tulane University School of Medicine discovered that frequent heartburn in older adults increases the risk of throat, tonsil, and sinus cancer in older people. In the study, the existence of heartburn increased the likelihood of developing the diseases by at least three percent.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which causes heartburn or acid reflux, happens when stomach acids come up the esophagus. This is known to affect 10 to 30 percent of the population, particularly older people and those who are obese. Additionally, medication for acid reflux increases your risk even further, as studies have shown that regularly taking pills can “double your chances” of developing stomach tumors.
With the results, the research team suggests senior adults with the condition be checked for head and neck cancers. According to the authors, GERD is related to “development of malignancy” in the upper digestive tract. This opens up the possibility for early detection and intervention. To note, cancers found in the respiratory system and upper digestive tracts claim 360,000 lives per year.
While most people have experienced acid reflux at some point, it is classified as a mild form of GERD if it happens once every two weeks at least, or moderate to severe if it happens at least once a week.
The group studied data from 13,805 patients aged 66 or older with either cancer of the respiratory system or the upper digestive tract, and compared them to a control group of 13,805 patients without cancer. They discovered a link between GERD and cancer in the larynx (voice box).
“This intuitively makes sense owing to the proximity to the esophagus and the readily exposed mucosa that lines the larynx, resulting in reflux-related tissue injury, mucosal inflammation, and chronic laryngitis,” according to the team.
The findings pointed that GERD was related to the cancer of the throat, tonsils, and parts of the sinuses.
Fast facts on GERD
Most instances of GERD can be modified with changes in lifestyle. Still, be on the lookout for the usual symptoms of the condition:
A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn) which may be worse at night
Difficulty in swallowing
Regurgitation of food (sometimes a sour liquid)
Feeling a lump in your throat
Acid reflux can be awful if it happens at night, as additional signs include:
A chronic cough
Asthma (either a new case or worsening)
Immediately look for a health care provider if GERD is accompanied by severe chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain in the arm or jaw – as this may also be the signs of a heart attack. Additionally, seek medical care if you experience severe and frequent GERD symptoms.
The likelihood of developing GERD is increased for people who are obese or have medical conditions such as a hiatal hernia (swelling of the highest point of the stomach) and connective tissue disorder. GERD can also appear during pregnancy or when the stomach is delayed with emptying.
Factors such as smoking; eating large meals or eating late in the evening; consuming fatty and fried foods; and drinking certain medicine such as aspiring all increase the likelihood of aggravating GERD.