Study links abdominal fat (visceral) to increased risk of Barrett’s esophagus

February 14, 2014

A recent study shows that carrying more weight in the midsection may increase one’s risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, a precursor to esophageal cancer.

Health.Harvard.edu

Barrett’s esophagus is “a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) is damaged by stomach acid and changed to a lining similar to that of the stomach.”*  Barrett’s esophagus has been shown to be a precursor to esophageal cancer.  

This study linked a higher amount of visceral fat to a greater risk of Barrett’s esophagus.

The fat located in the abdominal region is either defined as visceral or subcutaneous. Visceral fat surrounds the organs in the abdominal region, while subcutaneous fat is located between the skin and the abdominal wall. 

Researchers reported that the elevated risk of Barrett’s esophagus related to the increase of visceral abdominal fat was found in both those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms and also those who do not experience GERD symptoms.

For a more information on the study, please refer to the following two articles:

“Visceral abdominal obesity measured by CT scan is associated with an increased risk of Barrett’s oesophagus: a case-control study.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

“Visceral adipose tissue increased risk for Barrett’s esophagus.” Healio Gastroenterology

*“Barrett’s esophagus.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine 


Is your heartburn affecting your sleep?

February 11, 2014

Suffering from heartburn, whether be it during the day or at night, is an annoyance that many Americans cope with, some on a daily basis. An alarming 60 million Americans experience it at least once a month and 25 million Americans suffer from heartburn every day. When heartburn is this frequent or severe, people may be diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, more commonly known as GERD.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines GERD as “a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach).” This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, becomes damaged or weakened.

If not properly treated, long-term sufferers of GERD can develop serious medical conditions, which include chronic cough or hoarseness, esophagitis, bleeding, scarring or ulcers of the esophagus and Barrett’s esophagus, an abnormal change in the lining of the esophagus that can potentially raise the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

It is important to note that many patients who are diagnosed with GERD do not experience heartburn at all. Below are the most frequently reported symptoms of GERD:

• Heartburn (a symptom of acid reflux)
• Bad breath
• Burning or pain in the chest or throat
• Chronic cough
• Hoarseness or chronic sore throat
• Bitter taste in mouth
• Inflammation in the mouth and erosion of teeth
• Problems swallowing
• Asthma-like symptoms
• Excessive belching

GERD is amongst the most prevalent upper gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and most likely one of the most common disease diagnosed by Gastroenterologists across our nation.

For many, GERD does not just disrupt their daily routine, but their sleep as well. GERD sufferers who have trouble sleeping at night could also go on to experience other health problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepiness during the day and restless leg syndrome.

It is best to first speak to a gastroenterologist or a primary health care provider to see what options are available to treat GERD effectively. Below are some helpful tips in order to reduce GERD symptoms and enjoy a better night’s sleep.

• Eat smaller meals
• Chew food slowly and thoroughly
• Say upright after meals
• Avoid foods which trigger your GERD symptoms (fats, spicy foods, alcohol)
• Keep a food journal to track your “trigger foods”
• Try sleeping with your head elevated. Either with extra pillows or a wedge pillow
• Restrict your eating in the evening
• Do not eat or drink anything two hours before bedtime (with the exception of water for medications.)

Again, please consult your doctor if you are having problems sleeping at night or are experiencing frequent or severe heartburn.  These suggestions are intended for informational purposes only.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Sources:
National Sleep Foundation
WebMD
American College of Gastroenterology 
 
 
 

‘Missed Opportunities in GERD Complication Screenings’

January 30, 2014

High-risk patients don’t always get endoscopic examination for Barrett’s esophagus, cancer, say researchers.
Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Men aged 65 years and older are much more likely to suffer the complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), such as Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal, gastric or duodenal cancer, but they’re much less likely to undergo endoscopic screenings that can detect these complications, according to recent research.

Go to full story in Outpatient Surgery here.

 

 

 

 

 


RefluxMD: “Diagnosing GERD: The First Step Towards Treatment”

January 16, 2014

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) elevates one’s risk of developing esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma.)  The risk further increases based on the severity of symptoms (ie. heartburn and regurgitation from the stomach) and how long it goes without being properly treated.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines GERD as “a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach).” This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, becomes damaged or weakened.

Esophageal cancer adenocarinoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and also one of the deadliest cancers.  Since the cancer is often detected late, the survival rate is extremely low.   Therefore, it is crucial to speak to your doctor if you or someone you know is suffering from frequent heartburn and/or regurgitation.

There are many tests that can be performed to accurately diagnose GERD.  Too often, PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) are prescribed by doctors for the treatment of GERD.  PPIs function are to only manage GERD symptoms they do not repair the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Unfortunately, these medications do not relieve all patients from their GERD symptoms and they are not intended to be taken for a long period of time as they can cause serious long-term health effects.

Our friends at RefluxMD put together a fantastic article which describes the various ways your doctor can assess your condition.  Don’t ignore frequent heartburn!  Take the very first step in managing your GERD symptoms by reading this article.  Click here to learn more.

We are thankful for resources such as our friends at RefluxMD.  By working together, we can continue to raise awareness of esophageal cancer and dangerous risk factors such as GERD.


RefluxMD: Don’t be fooled, your heartburn could be serious

June 20, 2013

RefluxMD: Don’t be fooled, your heartburn could be serious

by Dr. Dengler

Heartburn can become an escalating problem if ignored. It can also be a dangerous condition if it is masked by just taking antacids.

Most people believe, however, that recurring acid reflux is a normal part of over-eating or sampling spicy food. These acid reflux sufferers don’t realize that one out of every three adults struggle with heartburn and regurgitation on a monthly basis, with 50 million people battling symptoms several times per week.

A nagging problem of heartburn and acid reflux seems easy to fix when watching the many pharmaceutical commercials claiming that a colored pill, taken daily, can solve the problem; in fact many Americans have accepted big pharma’s suggested solution as an easy fix to their woes.

Today, the drug industry sells over $14 billion in heartburn medications. The popular drug is in a class called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that work by reducing the amount of acid produced within the stomach.

Unfortunately, the millions of people who take these prescription drugs or over the counter medications are masking a serious and developing problem.

Unknown to millions of people regularly taking PPI pills to solve their heartburn is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning labels on these prescription drugs clearly states that patients should take the pills for no more than 14 days of temporary relief.

Two weeks of blocked calcium production in your stomach is the maximum timeframe recommended by medical doctors to mask acid reflux without being under the care of a physician—any longer can have serious negative consequences.

If you have heartburn for longer than 14 days then you have a bigger problem than a pill can help solve.

The stomach pains or burning sensation you feel are signals from your body that something is wrong. An acidic stomach is normal and is necessary for the efficient digestion of food.

So why are you getting those pains frequently? Simple, it is due to a small valve at the end of your esophagus called the LES, or your lower esophageal sphincter.

A healthy LES acts as barrier in keeping stomach contents where they belong — in your stomach.

The LES frequently becomes damaged, and when it does, those acidic stomach contents can flow up into the esophagus. When stomach acid leaves your stomach, it can be painful.

In fact, over 200,000 individuals visit emergency rooms each year believing they are having a heart attack only to learn that their pain was from acid reflux and not from a heart problem.

Unfortunately, for a segment of those with reflux disease, heartburn can progress to a precancerous condition called Barrett’s Esophagus, and in some cases, it can advance to adenocarcinoma, better known as esophageal cancer.

In fact, the incidence of esophageal cancer is the fastest growing of all cancers in the U.S., outpacing melanomas, breast and prostate cancers.

PPIs have proven to relieve symptoms, and for several medical conditions, they are highly valuable for short to mid-term use.

However, they are not a cure.

As they cannot strengthen or repair the LES, the cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease, they can only mask the symptoms. As a result, the disease continues indefinitely.

At a recent gastroesophageal conference, Dr. David Kleiman with the Department of Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College presented a research study documenting that 32% of PPI use beyond an initial 8-week trial was unnecessary since there was “no evidence of reflux disease” with those individuals.

According to Dr. Kleiman, “PPIs continue to be misused and overused in a large percent of our population.”

If you are experiencing regular heartburn and think you are solving your problem by consistently taking an acid production blocker, you may be masking a serious problem.

Even worse, you could be increasing your troubles by subjecting yourself to the dangerous and common side-effects of routine PPI usage.

Instead of turning to costly, unnecessary, and often dangerous pills, you should consult your physician and create a real plan to manage your acid reflux.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/06/13/dont-be-fooled-your-heartburn-could-be-serious/

 


Register today! 2nd Annual Esophageal Cancer Walk/Run

May 24, 2013

Join us Saturday, June 15, 9 AM at Warwick City Park for the 2nd Annual Esophageal Cancer Walk/Run!

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event.

Whether you decide to walk or run, or a little bit of both, get your team together today!

Be sure to bring your friends, family, co-workers and pets, too!

Children 12 and under and pets are FREE!

Register online: http://salgiwalkrun.eventbrite.com

We look forward to another fun and successful event to support esophageal cancer research!

Thank you!

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Four common heartburn myths

May 3, 2013

Four common heartburn myths

by: Dr. Dengler of RefluxMD

What would you do if you had recurring muscle aches a few times each month that you could manage with over-the-counter medication? Ignore it, right? It’s just a nuisance. What if on occasion those pains were so severe that you lost sleep, missed work, or even cancelled important plans? Still just a nuisance?

One in three American adults suffer from such a nuisance – heartburn – and they suffer monthly. Twenty percent of all adults lose sleep, miss work, and change their plans due to heartburn symptoms. The incidence of people suffering from these symptoms is increasing at a rate of 30% every decade.

For many, a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, causes these symptoms. Heartburn, that burning sensation in the chest and the feeling of fullness that often results from eating too much, is the most common symptom of GERD, but some also experience regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, a persistent cough, and/or hoarseness. Over time, GERD symptoms can become more and more frequent – and much more severe. Many medical experts view reflux disease as an epidemic, yet most sufferers continue to think of this as a nuisance.

Here is what you need to know:

Myth #1: Food is the reason for heartburn

Heartburn is just a result of what we eat, right? WRONG!

Heartburn is a symptom of reflux disease, a progressive, long-term condition caused by a weak lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. The LES is a ring of muscle in the lower end of the esophagus just above the stomach. It acts as a valve, opening to allow food to pass into the stomach and then closing to prevent the contents of the stomach from flowing, (or “refluxing”) back into the esophagus. Because the contents of the stomach are highly acidic, reflux can irritate the lining of the esophagus and cause the painful symptoms many sufferers know all too well.

Malfunction of the LES can happen for a variety of reasons – overeating, obesity, smoking, or excessive drinking. When it happens on occasion, reflux usually has no long-term consequences. Over time, though, the more you reflux, the weaker the LES becomes and the more you damage the esophagus. Reflux disease develops when the LES no longer functions as an effective barrier. Reflux disease can lead to complications such as inflammation, erosion of the lining of the esophagus, narrowing of the esophagus, Barrett’s Esophagus (a pre-cancerous condition), and esophageal cancer.

Myth #2: Heartburn is just a nuisance.

No one ever died from heartburn, right? WRONG!

Esophageal adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer of the esophagus, is directly linked to reflux disease. In fact, reflux disease is the only cause of this type of cancer. The number of esophageal cancer cases has grown more than 600 percent since 1975, making this deadly disease the fastest growing type of cancer in the United States. When charted against the incidence of all other cancers, esophageal cancer is in a league of its own. Sadly, esophageal adenocarcinoma is also one of the most lethal types of cancer. The overall likelihood of surviving five years is only 10-15 percent. This year alone, approximately 20,000 deaths will result from reflux-induced esophageal cancer.

Myth #3: Today’s medications cure reflux disease.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications stop the reflux, right? WRONG!

Many times when a patient experiences the symptoms of reflux disease, he simply purchases one of the many medications available over-the-counter at a drug store. If he complains to his doctor, the doctor will likely prescribe a proton pump inhibitor, or PPI, such as Prilosec, Prevacid, or Nexium to relieve his symptoms. All of these drugs work by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach, which helps minimize or even eliminate heartburn symptoms, but they don’t stop the reflux.

Reducing heartburn doesn’t mean that the reflux disease is cured. Unfortunately, even when taking PPIs and other acid reducing medications, the reflux continues! You just can’t feel it. Furthermore, it can continue to damage and deteriorate the LES. The disease progresses even though the symptoms aren’t apparent. Treatment with PPIs does not prevent the complications associated with reflux disease, and the conditions can still progress to Barrett’s esophagus and cancer.

Myth #4: PPIs can be taken with no risk as long as necessary.

Those PPIs must be safe since they are sold over the counter and don’t require a prescription, right? WRONG!

Consumers spend more than $24 billion worldwide each year on PPIs ($14 billion in the US annually), looking for relief from their reflux symptoms. While they have helped millions of people manage their symptoms, there are risks that users must understand.

Reflux disease is a chronic, progressive disease, so once PPIs are started, use typically continues on a daily basis indefinitely. Studies have shown that long-term daily use of these drugs may be correlated to an increase in the incidence of:

  • Bone fractures
  • Clostridium difficile colitis (a potentially deadly infection of the intestines)
  • Pneumonia
  • Low magnesium levels

PPIs are also known to interact with other drugs. The most important of these is Plavix, a blood thinner used for prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

What’s most concerning is that several studies have demonstrated that 30 percent of PPI users don’t even have reflux. That means that millions of people are at risk for these drug-related side effects when they don’t even need the medication.

PPIs do have a role in the management of reflux disease, but they must be used carefully as a maintenance medication and only under the care of a well-informed physician. Never take over-the-counter PPIs for more than 14 days without consulting a physician. And remember, even when they are used appropriately to treat reflux disease, PPIs simply control the symptoms of the disease. They don’t stop or cure reflux, they don’t reverse the damage to the LES, and they don’t stop reflux disease from progressing.

Fact #1: You can manage your reflux disease

There must be something that can be done to stop the progression of reflux disease, right? RIGHT! 

The good news is that, although reflux disease cannot be reversed, most people in the early stages of the condition can effectively manage their disease. By creating an action plan and following it, most can find relief for their symptoms AND keep their GERD from getting worse.

If you’re suffering from reflux disease, your first step should be to learn where you are in the progression of the disease. Then, you can identify the steps you can take to manage your condition, including working with a knowledgeable physician to design a personalized reflux disease management plan. Your plan will likely include monitoring your symptoms, incorporating lifestyle changes, taking intermittent medications, and/or undergoing minimally invasive surgery based upon the progression of your reflux disease.

Don’t be discouraged. The reality is that you are in control. And you don’t have to suffer. 

 

This article was shared from RefluxMD website. It was written by Dr. Dengler and has also appeared on Newsmax.  Visit http://www.refluxmd.com/ for more information!