Throat Cancer and Acid Reflux

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional

With all the talk of throat cancer, let's call it the "Michael Dougles effect", the release of new information on the effect of heartburn on throat cancer is comes in a timely manner.   According to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention frequent heartburn episodes are associated with a 78% increased risk of throat and vocal cord cancers (1).

What was different about this study is that the results were controlled for smoking, as well as alcohol intake.   Which means that these volunteer participants did not report any history of smoking or drinking.   Both of which are also considered risk factors for throat cancer.

The one factor that seemed to be the most protective, even ahead of prescription medications and home heartburn remedies, was taking antacids.   It was so protective in fact that it reduced the overall risk of throat cancer to only 41% which is a whopping 38% difference.   Antacids continued to provide some protection even in patients who did have additional risks.

What we can learn from studies like this is that we need to avoid the risk factors for throat cancer, especially in patients who have issues with heartburn.   If you do have heartburn frequently then popping an antacid might be your best bet.