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
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-TrÃ¸ndelag 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
- 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...