Thursday, 16 August 2007

UT Southwestern researchers discovers clues as to why reflux can turn cells cancerous

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Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center report that people with acid reflux disease, particularly those with Barrett's esophagus, have changed cells in their esophagus containing shortened telomeres. Telomeres are the ending sequences in DNA. This report along with other studies suggests that these shortened telomeres might allow cells more prone to cancer to take hold.

With acid reflux, acid splashes from the stomach up into the esophagus. Over time, this acid can cause normal cells in the esophagus, which are like skin, to change into tougher, acid-resistant cells like those found in the stomach and intestine, a condition called Barrett's esophagus. These acid-resistant cells are more prone to cancer.

According to Dr. Stuart Spechler, once the telomeres in the normal esophageal cells get too short, they can't regenerate themselves and then the change to these acid-resistant cells can take place.

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