Is there a link between smoking and heartburn?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Yes.  There is a link between smoking and heartburn for several reasons.   
1. Smoking causes inflammation in your esophagus which leads to heartburn, or can lead to heartburn.
2. Smoking increases your risk of cancer of the esophagus, often a first sign of this is heartburn.
3.  Smoking increases acid production in your stomach.
4.  Smoking increases arterial constriction, or inflammation in your blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease, or arterial disease of the heart, which leads to pain like heartburn.
Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine

It has been found that smoking causes an increase of acid production in your stomach which basically makes you have reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is basically overproduction of acid. Tobacco causes that to happen because it irritates the lining of the stomach.

Heartburn is produced when stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus; this reflux in healthy individuals is prevented by the action of the lower esophageal sphincter, which keeps the acid in the stomach. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, leading to reflux and heartburn.   
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Smoking can cause heartburn, and here's how: When you eat food, it travels down the esophagus from the mouth to meet up with the stomach pouch. The stomach contains an acid bath that works to break down food during digestion. Between the stomach and the esophagus is a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Its job is to keep acid from backwashing into the esophagus, and it's the reason why people feel burning in the chest. Smoking weakens this ring of muscle. Since the tissue in the esophagus is not made to withstand a constant assault from corrosive acid, it can damage the cells lining the esophagus. In this way, smoking can lead to more dangerous conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and cancer of the esophagus.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.