Study finds link between acid reflux and throat cancer

throat xray
Acid reflux affects millions of people around the world. Image: Getty.

Researchers have discovered a strong association between acid reflux and a variety of cancers.

Researchers from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans examined the link between the digestive condition and cancer of the throat, tonsils, and paranasal sinuses in American patients over the age of 66.

Their findings were published in JAMA Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery.

They found those who had acid reflux were 3.47, 3.23, 2.88, and 2.37 times more likely than those without to develop the three types of cancer.

“[Gastroesophageal reflux disease] GERD is associated with the presence of malignancy of the UADT in the US elderly population,” the study’s authors wrote.

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The study is the first of its kind to examine the link and researchers were quick to point out that further examination is needed to prove the correlation.

The team did not include data about tobacco and alcohol use, which are known risk factors for upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) cancer, in their study.

Healthline reports that 60 per cent of adults experience GERD within a 12 month period and 20 to 30 per cent have weekly symptoms.

UADT cancers include malignancies of the larynx, tonsils, and sinuses, among others. Medical News Today reports that these cancers account for more than 800,000 yearly diagnoses of cancer and more than 360,000 yearly deaths worldwide.

Acid reflux can be controlled with PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), which help keep the stomach from making too much acid.

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The medication has previously studies been linked to a series of adverse side effects, but experts recommend talking to your GP before making any decisions about the treatment.

Read more: Common acid reflux, heartburn medicines could hike liver disease risk

Do you have acid reflux? How do you deal with it?