Is Excessive Belching a Sign of Cancer?

Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment

Excessive belching alone is not usually a sign of cancer. However, burping a lot and also experiencing pain, swelling, or other symptoms could be a sign of certain types of cancers that affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Read more about the tie-in between excessive belching and cancer, a well as diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.

Excessive Belching Symptoms to Watch Out For

Verywell / Joules Garcia

What Causes Excessive Belching?

Belching, also known as burping, is your body's way of expelling excess air from your upper digestive tract. According to a 2020 review, a healthy person burps up to 30 times a day. However, some conditions may cause you to burp more often.

Most belching is caused by swallowing excess air. Eating or drinking too fast, talking while eating, drinking carbonated drinks, chewing gum, smoking, and having an anxiety attack (which can cause hyperventilation) can lead to excessive burping.

Other causes of excessive belching include:

  • Gastritis: An inflammation of the lining of your stomach. Gastritis can be caused by many things, including infection, irritation of the stomach lining by digestive juices, or excessive alcohol intake.
  • Acid reflux/gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can sometimes cause excessive belching because it promotes increased swallowing.
  • Peptic ulcer disease: This is a condition that causes open sores or ulcers in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Symptoms include heartburn, burping, bloating, and nausea.
  • Lactose intolerance: People who lack the protein needed to break down lactose (natural sugar) in milk cannot fully digest foods that contain dairy. Instead, the lactose ferments in the stomach. The extra gas it produces can cause burping.
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection: H. pylori is a type of bacteria that is the main cause of stomach ulcers and chronic gastritis. Symptoms of H. pylori infection can include stomach pain, belching, bloating, and nausea. H. pylori infection is associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer.

Is Excessive Belching a Sign of Cancer?

Belching by itself is not a clear sign of cancer, but it can be a symptom of precursors to cancers in the digestive system.

For example, infection with H. pylori causes chronic inflammation and significantly increases the risk of developing gastric ulcer disease and gastric cancer. Infection with H. pylori is the strongest known risk factor for gastric cancer.

Approximately 10% of people with H. pylori develop peptic ulcer disease and 1%–3% develop gastric (stomach) adenocarcinoma.

H. pylori is curable. Treatment usually includes several medications, such as antibiotics to kill the bacteria and drugs that make the stomach produce less acid.

Excessive Belching and Symptoms of Cancer

Most of the time, belching is not a sign of cancer. However, excessive burping that occurs with other symptoms can be signs of certain cancers, including gastric (stomach) cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

If you're belching a lot, there are other symptoms to watch for that could be a sign of a more serious health condition, including:

  • Poor appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel
  • Feeling full after eating only a small meal
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, with or without blood
  • Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen

Ways to Diagnose Cancer

When it happens on its own, excessive belching is not usually a sign of cancer. However, if you have other signs or risk factors, your doctor might want to do tests to rule out cancer as an explanation for your symptoms.

Your primary care doctor can talk to you about your symptoms, but you will likely need to be seen by a gastroenterologist (a doctor who treats diseases of the digestive tract). This specialist will examine you and might do certain tests, including:

  • Endoscopy: For this procedure, a doctor passes an endoscope (a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a small video camera on the end) down your throat. This allows the doctor to see inside your stomach and take biopsies (samples of tissue) if needed.
  • CT (computed tomography) scan: This type of imaging takes detailed pictures of the soft tissues of a particular area of the body. CT scans can show the stomach fairly clearly and often can confirm the location of cancer or another abnormality.
  • Barium swallow study: This special type of X-ray is used to look for abnormalities in the digestive tract. The pictures are taken after you drink a chalky-colored liquid that has barium in it. This substance lights up certain areas of your GI tract during the scan.

Treatment of Excessive Belching and Cancer

Normal burping does not require any treatment. However, if belching becomes excessive, it's important to talk to your doctor.

The treatment for excessive belching will depend on the cause. Often, diet and lifestyle changes are enough to alleviate the problem.

Lifestyle changes that can help reduce excessive burping include:

  • Going for a walk after eating
  • Avoiding fizzy drinks and chewing gum
  • Eating and drinking more slowly
  • Taking an over-the-counter (OTC) medication designed to reduce intestinal gas

If you find out that your excessive belching is related to cancer, there are several options for treatment. What treatment will be right for you will depend on where your cancer is, whether it has spread, and how healthy you are overall.

Cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation

Ways to Prevent Excessive Belching

If you're burping often and finding it uncomfortable, embarrassing, or disruptive, there are some things that you can do to try to reduce belching.

For example:

  • Eat slowly and avoid gulping air as you chew.
  • Avoid chewing gum and hard candy.
  • If you wear dentures, make sure that they fit properly (poorly fitting dentures can cause you to swallow excess air when you eat and drink).
  • Quit smoking (when you inhale smoke, you also swallow air).
  • Avoid carbonated drinks and beer (which release carbon dioxide gas).
  • Take a short walk after you eat.
  • Use a food diary and keep a careful record of what you eat and whether you experience gas.
  • Take an OTC product that reduces intestinal gas.

Summary

Excessive belching is most often caused by harmless conditions that are easy to treat and do not lead to any long-term problems. However, in some cases, excessive belching that happens along with other symptoms can be a sign of stomach, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers.

A Word From Verywell

Although everybody belches, it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Most of the time, a lot of belching is caused by a condition that is not serious and can be easily remedied at home.

However, if you notice that you are belching often and you also have other symptoms—such as losing weight without trying or feeling full after only eating a little—it's important to talk to your doctor. While it's rare, these symptoms can occur in some types of cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered excessive belching?

There is no single definition of excessive belching. Everyone has their own levels of gas depending on what they consume and how their body digests food. If you think that you are burping far more than usual, speak to your doctor to try and identify the underlying cause.

When should I be concerned about excessive belching?

Excessive belching is often nothing to worry about. If the belching is accompanied by unexplained weight loss, lack of appetite, and abdominal pain, contact your healthcare provider.

Which foods can cause excessive belching?

Some foods and drinks may promote frequent belching. You might find that these foods and drinks make you burp more often:

  • Some vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, artichokes, and asparagus)
  • Beans
  • Some fruits (such as pears, apples, and peaches)
  • Whole grains (such as whole wheat and bran)
  • Soft drinks and fruit drinks
  • Milk and milk products (such as cheese and ice cream, and packaged foods prepared with lactose, such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing)
  • Foods containing sorbitol (including dietetic foods and sugar-free candies and gum)
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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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