Study: Heat effective in treating throat condition

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Zapping away abnormal, precancerous cells in the throat may lower the risk of later developing esophageal cancer. That's the conclusion of the first major study to test this technique.

The study involved 127 people suffering from a heartburn-related problem known as Barrett's esophagus. Of those patients, only about 1 percent who had a procedure that uses heat to burn off precancerous spots went on to develop cancer over the next year. That's compared with more than 9 percent of those who got a fake  treatment in which no cells were destroyed.

The study results are reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. Barrett's esophagus occurs when stomach acid backs up into the throat, causing the normal lining to be replaced by abnormal growth. Barrett's sufferers are 30 times more likely than others to develop esophageal cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease.