You are here

Hiccups linked to oesophageal cancer

21st April 2006

Irish researchers believe that hiccups may be a sign of oesophageal cancer.

Scientists from the James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Dublin believe that a third of oesophageal cancer patients suffer from daily or regular bouts of hiccups.

The cancer, which attacks the food canal between the mouth and the stomach, kills nine out of ten people who contract it.

Traditionally, a significant loss of weight and difficulty in swallowing have been the two main indicators of the disease.

Tom Walsh, who led the research, told the Sunday Times: "Lots of people will get a bout of hiccups out of the blue and that is harmless, but if you are prone to regular bouts — on a daily basis or at other regular intervals — it may be an indicator of something more sinister."

Hiccups are caused by a spasm of the diaphragm and can occur when eating or drinking too much or too quickly as well coughing and laughing.

Around 7,500 new cases of oesophageal cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year.