A new study done by Brown University headed by Scott Lavegin suggests that those who experience frequent heartburn are most likely to develop throat and vocal cord cancer.

They compared the data of 1,234 cancer-free participants to 631 cancer patients. Their analysis suggests that heartburn may have caused the development of the cancer of the throat and vocal cord to the patients by up to 78 percent. The good news is that it may avoided by taking OTC antacids.

Heartburn, medically known as gastric or acid reflux, is an uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest, usually behind the breastbone. It manifests from the chest area and extends up to the neck, throat and jaw. Most people experience this after lying down or eating.

Previous studies associating heartburn with cancers of the throat and vocal cord were made but were not successful because the researchers missed to include other factors such as smoking and alcohol drinking. The Brown University's study is the first one to have included other factors on data analysis.

Each participant was asked to fill out a questionnaire about their alcohol drinking, smoking, family history, heartburn history, age, gender, race, BMI and other factors that may affect the results. They also did blood testing to see if the participants are infected with papillomavirus (HPV) virus known to trigger head and neck cancers.

Their findings imply that non-smokers and non-drinkers have a 78 percent risk to cancers of the throat and vocal cords due to frequent heartburn. Those who have taken antacids to cure it were only 41 percent at risk.

However, the team was not certain how antacids offer protection and will need further research to prove that it is really the cause of the variance. Their assumption though is that antacids help neutralize the production of acids and prevents it to reaching the throat that causes damage which may lead to cancer.

Complete details of the study were published in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.