Can Acid Reflux Cause Cancer?

Chronic acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) can potentially increase the risk of developing a specific type of cancer known as esophageal adenocarcinoma. The link between GERD and esophageal cancer is primarily due to long-term exposure to stomach acid and gastric contents, which can damage the lining of the esophagus over time. This damage can, in some cases, lead to the development of precancerous and cancerous changes in the esophageal tissue. The progression may include the development of Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that increases the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma.

It’s important to understand that the risk of developing esophageal cancer from GERD is relatively low for most individuals. However, the risk factors and associations include:

  • Chronic GERD: Long-standing and untreated GERD can lead to chronic irritation and inflammation of the esophagus, which can contribute to the development of precancerous and cancerous changes.
  • Barrett’s Esophagus: In some cases, individuals with GERD may develop Barrett’s esophagus, a condition where the lining of the lower esophagus undergoes changes that can increase the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma.
  • Other Risk Factors: Other factors that can increase the risk of esophageal cancer in individuals with GERD include smoking, obesity, and a family history of the disease.

It’s important to manage and treat GERD effectively to reduce the risk of complications, including the development of esophageal cancer. If you have chronic acid reflux symptoms, it’s advisable to seek medical evaluation and treatment. Healthcare providers may recommend lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and medications to manage GERD and reduce the risk of complications. In some cases, regular monitoring and surveillance of the esophagus, such as endoscopy, may be recommended for individuals with Barrett’s esophagus to detect precancerous changes early and prevent the progression to cancer