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Bile - not acid - is bad guy in triggering precancerous condition associated with reflux disease
Date:4/24/2012

For many people with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, acid reflux drugs are the answer to their woes, curbing the chronic heartburn and regurgitation of food or sour liquid characteristic of the disorder. But when it comes to Barrett's esophagus, a condition commonly found in people with GERD, acid control may be less important than beating back another bodily fluid bile.

A new study published in the Annals of Surgery shows that bile a digestive fluid that leaks backwards from the stomach into the esophagus along with acid in patients with GERD plays a critical and previously unrecognized role in the development of Barrett's esophagus. Study authors say the findings provide new avenues for the prevention and treatment of the condition, which is the only known cause of a rare but often deadly type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma.

"Our ultimate goal is to understand the biology of Barrett's so that we may find drugs that inhibit or reverse the condition, thus preventing cancer," said lead study author Jeffrey H. Peters, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in surgery of the esophagus and stomach and the Seymour I. Schwartz Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "The finding that bile is important is key because current drug therapies for GERD focus largely on acid control."

Acid-reducing drugs called proton pump inhibitors or PPIs are some of the most popular and best-selling drugs in America according to IMS Health, an organization that tracks pharmacy data. While the drugs do a great job of masking GERD symptoms by neutralizing stomach acid, Peters' research suggests they may not be the answer when it comes to blocking Barrett's esophagus. Other research even indicates that such drugs may actually make patients more prone to developing Barrett's.

Normally, our esophagus the muscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach is lin
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Contact: Emily Boynton
emily_boynton@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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