Frequent heartburn may predict cancers of the throat and vocal cord

May 23, 2013

Frequent heartburn was positively associated with cancers of the throat and vocal cord among nonsmokers and nondrinkers, and the use of antacids, but not prescription medications, had a protective effect, according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"Previous studies examining gastric reflux and cancers of the head and neck have generated mixed results," said Scott M. Langevin, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow at Brown University in Providence, R.I. "Most of those studies had either few numbers of cases or they were not adjusted for confounding factors. Ours is a large, population-based study with robust parameters that strongly suggests gastric reflux, which causes frequent heartburn, is an independent risk factor for cancers of the pharynx (throat) and larynx ()."

Langevin and his colleagues identified 631 patients from a large group of individuals enrolled in a population-based, case-control study in the greater Boston area. Of the 631 participants, 468 had throat cancer and 163 had cancers of the vocal cord. An additional 1,234 individuals matched for age and gender with no prior history of cancer were recruited using town records to serve as controls for the study.

All participants completed a questionnaire on their history of heartburn, smoking and drinking habits, family history of cancer and sociodemographic information. Because some head and neck cancers are caused by infection with human papillomavirus 16 (HPV 16), the researchers tested for the presence of antigens to HPV 16 viral proteins in the blood of all participants.

Langevin and his colleagues found that among participants who were neither heavy smokers nor heavy drinkers, a history of frequent heartburn was linked to a 78 percent increased risk for cancers of the throat and vocal cord. They also found that among those who had frequent heartburn, taking antacids, but not or home remedies, had a protective effect, with a 41 percent reduced risk for cancers of the throat and vocal cord. The of antacids was consistent, irrespective of the participants' smoking or drinking status, HPV 16 status or tumor site.

"Additional studies are needed to validate the chemopreventive effects of antacids among patients with frequent heartburn," said Langevin. "The identification of gastric reflux as a risk factor for throat and vocal cord cancers, however, may have implications in terms of risk stratification and identification of high-risk patients."

Explore further: HPV improves survival for African-Americans with throat cancer

Related Stories

HPV improves survival for African-Americans with throat cancer

March 28, 2013
Even though the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for certain head and neck cancers, its presence could make all the difference in terms of survival, especially for African Americans with throat cancer, according ...

HPV improves survival for African-Americans with throat cancer

July 19, 2012
Even though the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for certain head and neck cancers, its presence could make all the difference in terms of survival, especially for African Americans with throat cancer, say Henry ...

Losing weight may ease chronic heartburn

May 21, 2013
(HealthDay)—Obese and overweight men and women who suffer from heartburn often report relief when they lose weight, a new study shows.

Researchers find some lung cancers linked to common virus

April 10, 2013
A common virus known to cause cervical and head and neck cancers may also trigger some cases of lung cancer, according to new research presented by Fox Chase Cancer Center at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 on Wednesday, April ...

HPV-related head & neck cancers rising, highest in middle-aged white men

March 29, 2012
Research led by Lauren Cole, a public health graduate student, and Dr. Edward Peters, Associate Professor of Public Health and Director of the Epidemiology Program at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, reports that the ...

Recommended for you

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Scientists develop blood test that spots tumor-derived DNA in people with early-stage cancers

August 16, 2017
In a bid to detect cancers early and in a noninvasive way, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have developed a test that spots tiny amounts of cancer-specific DNA in blood and have used it to ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.