It’s a breast cancer treatment side effect that doesn’t get a lot of attention.
Women know they might lose their hair, feel nauseous, and battle fatigue. Weight loss, diarrhea, and even mouth sores are expected too.
But the heartburn that often comes with chemo catches many breast cancer patients off guard.
You see, chemotherapy drugs use a slash-and-burn approach designed to target rapidly dividing cells of all sorts. And without the ability to tell the difference between healthy, quickly dividing cells and cancerous ones, the drugs simply attack them all.
When it’s the cells in your gastrointestinal tract that are attacked and damaged, it can trigger the burning pain and discomfort of acid reflux. This is why so many breast cancer patients end up battling this side effect.
Tell your doc about the pain, and he’ll no doubt recommend a proton pump inhibitor or PPI. In fact, these common heartburn drugs are so popular you don’t even need a prescription to get your hands on many of them these days. They’re sold over the counter at your local drugstore.
But new research exposes an ugly truth about PPIs. If you take these drugs to relieve breast cancer treatment side effects, you could end up paying a stiff price.
The true toll of PPIs for breast cancer patients
Now, if you’re a long time Healthier Talk reader, you already know how I feel about PPIs. I’ve been warning folks away from them for years. The potential side effects for ANYONE range from nightmarish infections to kidney problems.
But the new study reveals some specific risks for women undergoing breast cancer treatment. PPIs can mess with your mind, leaving you locked in a battle with memory loss and other cognitive struggles.
But don’t worry, you don’t just have to suffer from that heartburn pain either. There’s another way to beat this chemo-related side effect without these debilitating new problems. And I’m going to share it with you in just a moment.
The new study finds that women in treatment for breast cancer who take PPIs face a higher risk of problems with…
- quality of life
Plus, women on these drugs during cancer treatment have a higher risk of the most severe forms of these side effects.
Now, chemo alone can cause all three of those problems as well. The new study confirmed that, too, as many women not taking PPIs struggled with memory and concentration. But for them, it often improved over time.
Not so much for the PPI users. In fact, one of the researchers warned some PPI users might NEVER fully recover. They could remain permanently trapped in a nightmare of brain fog and other cognitive struggles they can ever wake up from.
Soothe the burn without risky drugs
If you’re thinking that sounds a lot like the “chemo brain,” so many cancer survivors battle, you’re right. So, while many women blame breast cancer treatment for their memory struggles, the new study reveals it really could be something else entirely.
But PPIs aren’t the only way to battle acid reflux. You can work with a doctor to come up with an effective heartburn treatment plan that doesn’t involve risky drugs and possibly permanent side effects.
Ginger, for example, is a time-tested, science-backed natural therapy that can help with nausea and reduce stomach acid production. Chamomile and ginseng could also help cool the burn. And baking soda dissolved in a glass of water is a classic approach that works for many folks.
But, as always, be sure to speak to a doctor before you try anything new to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your breast cancer care. Ginger, for example, is also a natural blood thinner.
And don’t forget, acupuncture and acupressure can both also help with a variety of cancer treatment side effects. And research shows they can be effective for relieving acid reflux specifically.
An experienced integrative physician can help guide you through breast cancer therapy and work to find the best ways to limit both the immediate side effects and the long-term risks of treatments such as chemo and radiation.