According to an Irish researcher, frequent hiccups together with weight loss and difficulty in swallowing may be an indication of esophageal cancer.
Professor Tom Walsh, author of the report, from the James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Dublin, told a meeting of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland that 27 percent of patients with esophageal cancer complain of persistent hiccups, reports foodconsumer.org.
Six percent of patients were prompted to see a doctor because of persistent hiccups.
Hiccups are recognized as a sign of esophageal cancer in the U.S.
Hiccups are caused by the involuntary spasm of the diaphragm. It occurs when one eats too quickly or too much. Coughing and laughing, among others, can also cause hiccups.
The primary symptom of esophageal cancer is trouble swallowing (dysphasia). Other symptoms include pain swallowing or pain, weight loss, feeling like heartburn in the chest, hoarseness, hiccups and pneumonia. High calcium levels are usually signs of more advanced cancer.
In the US, approximately 12,300 people are diagnosed annually with esophageal cancer.