A 2013 study at Brown University suggests that frequent heartburn is an independent risk factor for esophageal, throat, and vocal cord cancer. In the study, adjustments were made for age, race, gender, smoking, education, alcohol consumption, weight, and HPV (another risk factor for throat cancer), it was found that people who experienced frequent heart burn were 78% more likely to develop throat cancer. Those who took antacids for reflux reduced that risk by 37%, however.

For people with laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), or, reflux that reaches the throat level, the link between reflux and throat cancer is thought to be similar to the link between reflux and esophageal cancer. As stomach acid rises and injure the sensitive lining of the esophagus and throat over and over, that process of injury and healing may eventually trigger cancerous cell formation.

People with LPR may also experience chronic cough, chronic need to clear the throat, vocal cord dysfunction, and unusual phlegm in the throat.

More research is needed in order to determine how quickly cancer develops as a result of reflux and at what point individuals with LPR  are at greater risk for developing cancer.

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