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Break Out the Tums

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The holidays usually mean an abundance of food, alcohol, and good times, says ABC News' Carrie Gann. But all that partying can lead to heartburn, and excessive acid reflux is not only an annoying problem, but a potentially dangerous one. A new study by Norwegian researchers shows that the number of people suffering from acid reflux has almost doubled in the past decade, while previous studies have shown that chronic acid reflux, which scars the esophagus, can lead to an increased risk of esophageal cancer, Gann says. "In 2006, a study from the Mayo Clinic found that 5 percent of people with acid reflux developed Barrett's esophagus, a condition that may be a precursor of esophageal cancer," she adds. "Although esophageal cancer is far less common than other cancers, it is particularly fatal." The Norwegian study shows that increased obesity rates are connected to rising of acid reflux, worrying oncologists who say that obesity is now a risk factor for many different forms of cancer. There are effective drugs to treat and manage chronic acid reflux, Gann adds, but little is known if these are effective in preventing Barrett's esophagus or esophageal cancer.

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