Cancers of the respiratory and upper digestive tracts account for more than 360,000 deaths worldwide each year. These cancers are thought to be caused by various factors, including chronic inflammation.
‘Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) increases the risk of cancer in throat, tonsils and parts of the sinuses in older adults.’
Studies examining a link between the inflammatory condition gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or acid reflux) and the development of cancer in the respiratory and upper digestive tracts have had conflicting results.
About 13,805 patients (66 or older) with cancer of the respiratory and upper digestive tracts and 13,805 patients without cancer; patient information came from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database, a registry of cancer patients and their treatments and outcomes, between 2003-2011.
The study measures cancer of the respiratory and upper digestive tracts.
This was a case-control observational study. Patients with cancer of the respiratory and upper digestive tracts (outcome) were compared to those without cancer to examine whether GERD (exposure) was associated with cancer.
Researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control natural differences that could explain the study findings.
The authors of this study were Edward D. McCoul, M.D., M.P.H., Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, and coauthors.
The results showed that GERD was associated with cancer of the throat, tonsils and parts of the sinuses.
The limitations of the study showed that data about patient tobacco and alcohol use, which are the most well-established risk factors for cancer of the respiratory and upper digestive tracts, were not reported in the database.
The diagnosis were based on ICD-9 codes which are used for billing rather than clinical purposes.
GERD was associated with cancer in older adults in the respiratory and upper digestive tracts. This association requires further study to determine causality and to possibly identify an at-risk population so surveillance can be improved and treatment initiated earlier.