Antacids increase patient outcome in head and neck cancer

4 December 2014

Patients who take antacid medicines to control acid reflux have a better overall survival after suffering with head and neck cancer, according to a new study. Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can often cause reflux but drugs used to combat it could actually help in other ways.

A team at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center looked at 596 patients who were treated for head and neck cancer and found that those who took antacids had significantly better survival rates than those who did not. 

The study revealed that some types of antacid medicines were more successful than other, with proton pump inhibitors having the most significant effect, decreasing risk of death by 45 per cent. Patients who were given histamine 2 blockers saw a 33 per cent decrease, conversely.

Published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, the study is unclear why this connection is present and further research needs to be conducted in this area.

Dr Silvana Papagerakis, research assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Michigan Medical School, said there has been suspicions that these medications were able to have a positive impact on patient outcome.

She added that the study makes it clear that medication can have more benefits than just controlling side effects.

Posted by Edward Bartel


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