In the Papers
This page carries a mixture of recent stories from the popular press and from more specialised news media.

"I have gastric reflux and have heard chocolate can make it worse, as it relaxes the lower sphincter in the oesophagus. Has this been proven?"

"Some anecdotal evidence suggests caffeine and theobromine may worsen reflux symptoms by increasing acid production. But the scientific evidence has been inconclusive and the amount found in chocolate is low and makes this unlikely to be a significant trigger.

"My view is that if you wish to, you should continue to enjoy chocolate, provided, of course, you do not experience a direct link between your symptoms and the act of eating chocolate or drinking cocoa, which would speak for itself." (Dr Martin Scurr, Daily Mail)

"studies on PPIs are epidemiological — proving an association, rather than a causal effect — and not considered to be particularly high-quality evidence," says Nicholas Boyle, a consultant upper gastrointestinal surgeon at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells. "For most people, my advice would be that PPIs are safe and very effective." (Daily Mail)

"Proton pump inhibitors do not increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease."

"Researchers looked at 70,718 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 282,862 control patients - thus making it the largest study on the topic so far.

And, according to the researchers, people do not need to avoid proton pump inhibitors in fear of developing Alzheimer's disease." (Daily Express)

3rd August 2017 Revealed: Five ways you can stop heartburn striking this summer  syndicated article from Press Association. This is the Daily Echo's version.

3rd August 2017 How to stop heartburn ruining your holiday Another excellent article by Dr Sarah Jarvis. this time on Net Doctor.

1st August 2017 FDA Mulling Petition To Add Cancer Warning Labels On Antacids
"The FDA is considering a petition [from Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN)] calling for cancer warning labels on popular over-the-counter antacids that treat heartburn." (Video from MSN)

  • An estimated seven million Britons suffer from acid reflux on a  regular basis
  • In one recent survey a third of people said their condition got worse abroad 
  • More worryingly, chronic reflux is also a leading cause of oesophageal cancer

"heartburn can be a sign of three types of cancer.
The condition could be linked to stomach cancer, oesophageal cancer, or even pancreatic cancer.
Public Health England advised people should go to their doctor if they have persistent heartburn or difficulty swallowing food for three weeks or more." (Daily Express)

Dr Mark Porter discusses the growing concerns about the widespread use of PPIs, the acid suppressing family of drugs used to treat indigestion and the most prescribed in the world, and preliminary findings of the AspECT trial (aspirin + PPI).  -  BBC Inside Health.

19th July 2017

Item about the launch of "Less Survivable Cancers Task Force" at Westminster.
Chris represented Barrett's Wessex as one of the Action Against Heartburn delegates.

18 July 2017

Another article referencing Dr Sarah Jarvis, in the Daily Express.

30th June 2017
A poorly cobbled together article by a reporter in the Daily Express, listing (in small print) symptoms of oesophageal cancer and including (unreferenced) a cytosponge video and a photo of a tray of drinks with the caption that alcohol can increase risk (also unreferenced).

27th June 2017
Another excellent article by Dr Sarah Jarvis, this time on the BT website.

26th June 2017
Tim Underwood was on the PM programme on BBC Radio 4 talking about his research work for understanding oesophageal cancer. You may listen here. Scroll forward to 51 min.
25th May 2017 

Excellent article in the Daily Express by Dr Sarah Jarvis with whom Chris shared a platform on the Jeremy Vine show.
But don't pay too much attention to the Express's added slideshow of foods to avoid. (They may be triggers for some but may not affect you.)

15th May 2017
Chris was on Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 talking about Barrett's Oesophagus.
You may listen to the item here. Scroll forward to 1:09:45

12th May 2017

Tim Underwood talking about a £1.4 million grant from Cancer Research UK for some ground breaking research into defeating Oesophageal Cancer.

The Esophageal Cancer Action Network, a national organization based in Baltimore, ... plans to file a citizen's petition Monday with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to require cancer warnings on the labels of over-the-counter reflux medications. (Baltimore Sun)
[Our petition had to close due to the snap election!]

"It’s worth using your senses to check whether you might have long-standing reflux, which could be an indicator of Barrett’s. Is it difficult to swallow? Can you feel chest pain? Do you see black, tarry stools or vomit that resembles coffee grounds? Can you hear your stomach growling? Does your breath smell? Reflux is common and easily treated, but for persistent cases, medical advice should be sought." (Reader's Digest)

“I had the LINX surgery nine weeks ago, and I can honestly say it is the best decision I have ever made. My only wish is that it had been available to me in 1991, so I wouldn’t have had to sleep sitting up for 26 years." (The Sun)

Thanks to Steve Hewlett, there is more awareness of how hard it can be to diagnose oesophageal cancer early enough.

For some patients, by the time doctors know what's what, it is too late to do anything meaningful.

Rebecca Fitzgerald, professor of Cancer Prevention at Cambridge University, explained that one of the latest devices to detect early symptoms of oesophageal cancer is the Cytosponge. (Radio 4 PM)

I have always had a good appetite and so it felt strange one evening in ­November 2015 when I was eating my meal and struggled to swallow my food.

There was discomfort and it didn’t feel right and I knew immediately that something was wrong. When I told my wife Chrissy she insisted that I booked an appointment at the GP the next day. (Daily Mirror)

Meanwhile, even though Professor Lovat says chronic heartburn is 'very common and the vast majority of people with it won't get cancer', he adds: 'It's still important to get it checked out. (Daily Mail)

24 February 2017 "I didn't know how to say Goodbye" Nick Robinson's tribute poem to Steve Hewlett (Daily Telegraph).

But over the past decade it's emerged that acid reflux can contribute to a number of symptoms and problems.

These include tooth erosion, chronic rhinitis (inflammation of the nose, causing it to become blocked or runny) and in children even glue ear, because refluxed acid can potentially reach into all these areas.

Another serious problem is Barrett's oesophagus, where acid causes the cells lining the gullet to become like the cells lining the stomach. 

(Daily Mail)

Hewlett died on Monday morning while listening to Bob Dylan with his family at the Royal Marsden Hospital in west London.
Nick Robinson, Radio 4's Today presenter who was treated for cancer in 2015, wrote a poem tribute to his friend and colleague on his Facebook page.
"I visited him in hospital a few days ago and wrote this knowing that I would almost certainly never see him again," he said in the post. Here is an extract: 
"You know, I know, anyone who has faced it knows differently. Cancer is not a battle. There is no choice whether to fight let alone whether to win or lose.
"No amount of courage no measure of cowardice can decide the outcome. There is no virtue in survival. Certainly no lack of it in death.
"I lived. You now know that you will not. Luck. Chance. Fate. Nothing more. Nothing less."   (BBC News)

He only had heartburn.             by Gyles Brandreth

"What started with a touch of heartburn ended up changing my life. And in between, let me tell you, it’s been a living hell.

Three weeks last Saturday, after a happy sandwich lunch with my lovely wife of 44 years, I thought an afternoon nap might be nice.

I settled back on the bed and closed my eyes. Just a few minutes later they were wide open again and I was calling out to Mrs B: ‘I think I’m having a heart attack.’    (Daily Mail)

"unfortunately, people are often presenting late because they - or their GPs - aren't aware of the
"We have the highest rates of oesophageal adenocarcinoma [the most common form of the disease] in the world," says specialist surgeon Tim Underwood, MRC clinician scientist and senior lecturer at University of Southampton. "It tends to present late, and spread early. So two-thirds of the patients we see have already got cancer that's spread; that's the reason it's so difficult to treat." (BT)

"Radio 4's Steve Hewlett has married his partner in hospital after being told his cancer treatment could not continue.
"His consultant had helped arrange the quickie wedding after telling him he had "weeks, possibly months" to live." (BBC)

 "Chas recently underwent hospital tests which revealed cancer of the oesophagus.

"Luckily this has been spotted at an early stage and he'll be undergoing treatment immediately."

The star "expects to be back out on the road with Dave" (Daily Echo - also covered by most national papers.)

1 February 2017 She's been a cancer nurse for 15 years, but Maggie knows just what it's like to be a patient "Maggie [a nurse at Southampton General Hospital] was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, the sixth most common form of the disease in the UK, which claims around 21 lives every day." (Southern Daily Echo)

"The breath test was able to correctly indicate cancer in around 80% of patients who had cancer, and similarly able to correctly exclude cancer in around 80% who did not have cancer."
(From NHS Choices but covered in many papers. Also see this on our research news page.)

"Heartburn, also known as indigestion, can be triggered by eating too much food, or as a result of GORD - gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

Acid reflux is caused by stomach fluid, which contains strong digestive acids to break down food, ‘leaking out’ of the stomach and travelling up toward the oesophagus.^ (Daily Express)