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Monday, August 30, 2004

Chronic Heartburn linked to Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal Cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the US. It is linked to an epidemic of chronic heartburn. Heartburn and reflux are caused when stomach acid enters the esophogus and causes a burning pain.

It has been estimated that 20% of Americans suffer from weekly episodes of heartburn, while 7% suffer bouts every day.

Chronic heartburn is also called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. It is on the rise for the following reasons:

• greater consumption of fatty foods that can slow the emptying of the stomach
• increased obesity
• heredity
• bacterial changes in the gut
• and/or general wear and tear on the esophagus

Treatment for GERD includes drugs called proton pump inhibitors: AstraZeneca's Nexium (the purple pill) and Tap Pharmaceutical's Prevacid. These drugs cost about $120 a month.

"Heartburn was part of my life for many years. Now I'm retired and with Prevacid daily, so is my heartburn" - John Elway retired football player

Celebrity spokesman for Nexium: Mark Spitz, Olympic gold medal swimmer.

The bottom line is that little bit of heartburn over a period of time can kill you.

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