Drug treatment for heartburn



Proton pump inhibitors - now in their 5th generation (omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole and esomeprazole) - are the mainstay of treatment and have revolutionaised symptom control.


They are the second largest selling drug in the world after statins (anti-cholesterol medication), which reflects how common and serious the problem is.


Whilst very effective at relieving heartburn the evidence is not yet there to say that they prevent cancer, although it is rather better showing that, if you have Barrett's oesophagus (10-15% of longterm heartburn sufferers), it does reduce the rate of change towards cancer.


Whilst it might seem logical that reducing heartburn should reduce the cancer risk, this condition has many causes and it must be emphasized that drug therapy is not a substitute for the lifestyle changes that address the issues that led to the development of reflux in the first place.


Over the counter medications such as Gaviscon, Rennies, Tums, etc may be effective in reducing the symptoms of heartburn in milder cases but there is no evidence that they do anything more - and certainly they do not reduce the risk of cancer.





Red Dolphin  2009  Terms and Conditions

Red Dolphin

Oesophageal awareness for the 21st century