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Bowel cancer warning – why your heartburn could be caused by something serious

Bowel cancer is a general term for any cancer that develops in the large bowel, and it may sometimes be known as colon or rectal cancer.

You could lower your risk of the condition by making a few lifestyle changes.

The early warning signs of bowel cancer can be very subtle, and many people may not be aware that they’re at risk.

One of the most common early symptoms of bowel cancer is persistent heartburn or stomach ache.

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“Heartburn, indigestion or stomach pain are very common, and are usually a reflection of your diet,” said Mr Borzoueh Mohammadi, Consultant General and Upper GI Surgeon at The London Digestive Centre, part of The Princess Grace Hospital and HCA Healthcare UK.

He told Express Health: “But, if you notice symptoms becoming more frequent or somewhat worse, then these may require further investigation.

“Indigestion or heartburn symptoms that occur occasionally [for example fewer than twice a week] and easily respond to over-the-counter medication are not usually a cause for concern.

“However, if your symptoms are so severe and frequent that they wake you up at night, cause you to use over-the-counter medications more than twice a week, or become resistant to medications, then you should book an appointment with a reflux expert or local GP.

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“Sometimes when indigestion, acid reflux or heartburn is not treated correctly, it can cause damage to the oesophagus, so it’s important for the correct treatment to be carried out. Furthermore, persistent heartburn could be a sign of oesophageal cancer.”

Heartburn may also be caused by stress or anxiety, as well as smoking, pregnancy, and certain foods.

You can lower your risk of the condition by eating smaller portion sizes, or by finding alternative ways to relax.

A pharmacist can provide advice on medication to relieve your heartburn or acid reflux. Antacids are a common medicine that can reduce symptoms.

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