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24 Dec 2011 04:35 AM

Acid Reflux 50% More Common Than Ten Years Ago


A long-term Norwegian study reveals the number of people who experience acid reflux at least once a week has gone up by

nearly 50% in the last 10 years, with women appearing to be more susceptible to the condition than men. The findings raise

concerns that this will lead to an increase in cancer of the oesophagus, a once rare but now more common malignancy that is very

difficult to treat. The researchers write about their findings in the online first issue of the journal Gut, published on 21

December.



Acid reflux, also known as gastro-oesophageal reflux, is where the stomach contents, which includes food and acidic digestive

juices, escape upwards into the gullet or oesophagus. This can irritate the oesophagus and cause heartburn and other symptoms.





The condition is linked to an increase of gullet or oesophageal cancer, which is difficult to treat successfully. Rates of this cancer

are rising rapidly in developed countries.



For the study, lead author Eivind Ness-Jensen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Levanger, and

colleagues, tracked the digestive health of nearly 30,000 people taking part in the Norwegian Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (the

HUNT study), which takes its data from regular health surveys of a representative sample of the Norwegian population.





The participant data covers an average of 11 years between 1995-6 and 2006-9. When they analyzed it, the researchers found

that:


  • Over the study period, the prevalence of any acid reflux symptoms rose 30% (from 31.4% to 40.9% of participants), while

    the more severe symptoms rose by 24% (from 5.4% to 6.7%).


  • The number of people who experienced the symptoms at least once a week rose by 47% (from 11.6% to 17.1%).


  • This increase was apparent in both men and women...
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