Left untreated Heartburn can progress to esophageal cancer of which survival rates are poor. Modern day convenience diets and lifestyles are contributors to heartburn: Pre-disposing factors include: Stress, weight gain and obesity, fast fatty foods, carbonated drinks, and certain medications (anti-inflammatories, blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications.)
Current treatment revolves around using acid-suppressing drugs, to decrease stomach acid production. Common acid suppressing drugs include the proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Protonix, and Prevacid. Proton pump inhibitors are the second most popular drug type, and accounted for 93 million prescriptions last year.
Some concern is now showing up in the research that long term use of ant-acids changes the environment in the digestive tract enough to allow changes at the cellular level that promote cancer cell growth. In addition, just shutting off acid production in the stomach may not prevent acid damage in the esophagus even though symptoms may be reduced or eliminated.
Furthermore, more concern exists around changing the composition of the stomach acid from acid to alkaline. Either end of the spectrum is not good; something that is too alkaline can be just as caustic as something too acidic, so instead of acid flushing the walls of the esophagus we now have alkaline liquid flushing the walls.
A Three-Fold Approach
By suppressing stomach acid the underlying problem is not being addressed. In order to properly resolve the symptoms and restore digestive health, a three-fold approach must be used.