Health Watch - Digestive Tract: Acid Reflux

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The different segments of the digestive tract, from mouth to the other end, each have their own issues. This week on Health Watch, we’ll talk about some issues relating to the digestive tract. At the upper end of the tract, acid reflux can damage the esophagus – but the damage may not happen the way doctors thought.

When stomach acid flows up into the esophagus, it causes heartburn, damages the esophagus and can even lead to esophageal cancer. Doctors have treated this by giving medicine to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. But researchers at
UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that the esophageal damage may actually be an immune system response. The acid causes esophageal cells to release chemicals that attract inflammatory cells to the esophagus, and that’s what causes the damage. Dr. Rhonda Souza, a UT Southwestern gastroenterologist, says this could mean a different kind of treatment would prevent esophageal damage.

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April 2010


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