2001 St. Martin’s Press
ISBN 0-312-16884-X
Trade paperback $14.95

Do you have these symptoms? Heartburn? Chest pain? Belching?
Pain and discomfort after eating? Recurrent bronchial infections?
Chronic coughing or sore throat? Difficulty swallowing?
Shortness of breath? Asthma?

"Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer worldwide and the sixth most common cause of death from cancer," says Elaine Fantle Shimberg, the author of a new book about a common problem known to the medical world as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Coping with Chronic Heartburn ($14.95, St. Martins Griffin) is a wakeup call to the millions who experience this common problem.

"Heartburn---The word itself is at once innocent and worrisome," says Dr. Christina M. Surawitz in her foreword to Shimberg's book. "We are lucky to have good treatments, both good drugs and good surgical approaches and these are well reviewed in this book. All you need to know about GERD is provided here."

The author of eighteen books, Shimberg often writes of health problems that have arisen out of her own life. It was the loss of her uncle to esophageal cancer that prompted her to research and write Coping with Chronic Heartburn. As she relates in her book, "Marty loved to eat, even though he often paid for his indulgence with painful attacks of heartburn. When the heartburn continued even between meals, he wrote it off to stress. When his heartburn bothered him, he popped antacids to relieve his symptoms."

Does this describe you or someone close to you? If so, you are seeing the symptoms of GERD that can lead literally to the grave. Within nine months of being diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, Shimberg's uncle was dead.

A Billion a Year for Antacids to Stop Heartburn

The fact that television is filled nightly with advertisements for over-the-counter (OTC) antacids tells you heartburn is a very common, very big problem in the lives of millions of Americans. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), in 1994 Americans were spending more than $3.7 billion annually for anti-reflux drugs. In 1996, a research study revealed that Americans were spending more than $1 billion annually just for OTC heartburn remedies.

The reassurances the advertising offers, the promise of being able to eat everything from spicy foods to chocolate cake, perhaps washing it down with black coffee, do not address the warning signs of GERD.

Reflux ranges from babies who spit up severely to the elderly who regurgitate and aspirate. Published by St. Martin's Griffin, Shimberg's new book offers a wealth of information, plus the reassurance that, in most cases, GERD does not turn into cancer. However, "the risks of its doing so are very real."

While Americans focus on the hot-button health problems of AIDS, breast or prostate cancer, they pop an antacid to deal with that burning sensation, one that "Coping with Chronic Heartburn" recommends a comparable level of attention.

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