The study suggests that gastroesophageal reflux disease appears more commonly in women, people who are getting older, people who are less educated and those who have gain weight after quitting smoking.
Dr. Eivind Ness-Jensen, one if the lead researchers in the study, explained that heartburn and acid regurgitation occur frequently, with more than 30% of people living in Western populations suffering from these conditions at least once a week.
Dr. Eivind Ness-Jensen said that the purpose of the study was to determine what causes these symptoms in so many people.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is characterized by acid reflux, which is when stomach acid moves upward into the esophagus.
The researchers published the findings of their recent study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
Other symptoms include laryngitis, hoarseness, dry cough and an increased production of saliva. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can also lead to more dangerous complications such as precancerous modification of the esophagus.
The new study involved more than 30,000 people from Nord-Trondelag County, Norway.
The participants were interviewed in 1995 to 1997, and 2006-2009.
In the first interview, the volunteers showed no signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
When the second interview was conducted, 510 of them suffered from serious GERD symptoms, while 14,406 still showed no signs of the illness.
According to the researchers, they found that the appearance of GERD symptoms was linked to excess weight, based on the body mass index.
A BMI that is less than 25 is considered normal, more than 26 to 29.9 is overweight, and if it’s 30 or above, then it’s considered obese.
During the 12 year study, the risk of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease increased by 30% when the BMI increased with every one point.
Also, those who were smokers or had been smokers had a 29 to 37% increased risk of developing symptoms of GERD, as compared to the participants who had never smoked.
The study revealed that those who stopped smoking and their BMI increased by more than 3.5 points after they quit the habit, were two times more likely to develop the disease, compared to those who never smoked.
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