Beware Frequent Heartburn May Lead To Cancer
The traditional image of a cancer patient is of a thin, wasted person, so no one tends to rationalize that a jolly, plump person would ever get cancer. But this is not true. Among men, those with a BMI above the normal range run an increased colon cancer risk of over 55 per cent. They are also more likely to develop a type of oesophageal cancer called oesophageal adenocarcinoma.
Nowadays, due to unhealthy eating habits, heartburn has become a common condition and when it has been persistent for many years, it can lead to deadly condition of oesophagus cancer. However, though intermittent heartburn is quite common, it does not necessarily imply one is suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Nevertheless, an episode of heartburn about more than twice a week, may be indicative of GERD and may eventually progress to more grave health complications.
How Cancer Originates
When heartburn symptoms turn up several times a week, this condition is called GERD. As per an estimate around 20 to 30 per cent of the Indian population has GERD, as they are in the habit of consuming junk food more frequently. The process starts when the acid and food from the stomach flows back into the food pipe, causing an unpleasant discomfort in the chest known as heartburn or acid reflux.
This condition can also result from consuming excessive fatty rich foods before retiring to bed, or eating large amounts of food in general, which forces the muscle that keeps the food in the stomach to give away to the pressure. And when the acid flows back up, it enters the esophagus, which is a tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. The stomach acid then irritates the esophagus lining which makes swallowing difficult, causing ulcers or sores in the esophagus lining. Thereby, the oesophagus starts becoming narrow and forming cancerous cells.
An episode of heartburn about more than twice a week may be indicative of GERD and may eventually progress to more grave health complications
When To Visit A Doctor
If you experience heartburn twice or more in a week, or if it gets worse with time and keeps you awake at night, interfering with your ability to perform your daily activities normally, it’s time to get a check-up done, as an early diagnosis can help the doctors to remove cancerous cells.
Treatment For Heartburn
Sometimes, a patient can manage the discomfort of acid reflux disease with lifestyle changes and anti-acidity medicines. However, some may require stronger medications, or even surgery.
Surgical Treatment Option For GERD
The treatment of GERD through the surgical method aims at creating a new valve which acts as a barrier to prevent acid reflux. The most common anti-reflux surgery that is performed for the treatment of GERD is known as Fundoplication (fundo means top of stomach and plication means to wrap). In this procedure, the upper portion of the stomach is wrapped around the lower end of the food pipe or the esophagus and the wrap is stitched in place. This technique increases the anti-reflux barrier at the junction between the esophagus and the stomach. In other words, it acts as a new valve and prevents backflow of the acid into the food pipe and thereby, restores the body’s natural response.
Non-Surgical Or Conservative Treatment
Adopt Some Lifestyle Modifications
Raising the head end of the bed usually work for patients who experience heartburn regularly at night, as gravity plays an important role in preventing reflux. Hence, it’s vital to maintain an upright posture, for at least three hours after dinner, so that the meal is digested.
Donsleep after eating (for about three hours), which is when the production of acid is at its peak. Have your dinner early and don t binge eat during bedtime. Trying placing a solid foam wedge under the head side of your mattress, to provide the desired elevation.
Avoid Eating Large Meals
Patients suffering from GERD should eat small meals, especially for dinner. In fact, the best policy is to take small meals at regular intervals and no snacks at all, during bedtime.
Watch What You’re Eating
There are certain foods which cause increased reflux and hence should be avoided. These include fatty foods, chocolate, onion, tomatoes. Also, alcohol is a known to trigger heartburn, by causing the production of acid in the stomach. Hence, the intake of beverages such as coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, and citrus juices may also worsen the symptoms.
You should be aware that there might be certain foods which do not suit your body. Hence, it is very important to identify such foods and learn which food items work best for you.