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Study- Heartburn Drugs May Cause Cancer

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susan_harr6 years ago

A new study shows taking medications like Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid may increase the chance of developing adenocarcinoma, an esophageal cancer which kills about 8,000 people per year in the United States.

These medications are in the class of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) which work to control the production of stomach acid and treat heartburn, reflux, peptic ulcers. They also work to control symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The study found when the medicines worked to suppress symptoms of GERD, the patient was more likely to develop adenocarcinoma (esophageal cancer).

The Study

  • Published in the journal- Archives of Surgery
  • Conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Included 769 patients with GERD
  • Explored whether or not proton pump inhibitors might cause esophageal cancer


  • Control of GERD symptoms increased cancer risk.
  • The more severe GERD symptoms one had, the less chance they had of developing adenocarcinoma (esophageal cancer).
  • Those taking PPIs were 61% more likely to have Barrett's esophagus (a pre-curser to cancer) or adenocarcinoma (esophageal cancer) if they reported no typical GERD symptoms.
  • Findings indicate while PPIs reduce the acid that causes GERD symptoms, the drugs don't cure reflux, the source of their problems.
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