Heartburn and Acid Reflux Becoming More Common
The results of a study published in the medical journal GUT on 21 December 2011 are showing a worrying increase in the frequency with which symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux are suffered.
The research which was carried out in Norway collected health information by questionnaires over two periods from almost 30,000 people. The first period covered 1995 to 1997 and the second period covered 2006 to 2009. The questionnaire asked the participants whether they experienced the symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux and if so how severe these symptoms were. Some of the participants were also questioned about the frequency with which these symptoms were suffered.
The main points coming out of this study which was conducted by researchers from Norway, Sweden and King’s College London are that:-
- the incidence of all heartburn/acid reflux symptoms rose 30% over the two review periods
- the incidence of severe symptoms rose by 24%
- the numbers experiencing heartburn/acid reflux symptoms at least least once a week increased by 47%
- Women under 40 were least likely to experience the symptoms and were more likely to have the symptoms disappear without treatment
- Those aged 60 to 69 were the most likely to have severe symptoms, with women experiencing this symptoms more frequently than men
- Age did not increase the likelihood of a man suffering heartburn/acid reflux symptoms.
Possible explanations for the increases proposed include:-
- Excessive weight – over the period of the study there has been a large increase in the numbers of the population who are overweight or obese.
- The use of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).