Obesity, Acid Reflux Disease Linked?
Obesity May Make GERD More Likely, Researchers Report
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 1, 2005 -- Here's another reason to tackle obesity: Trimming down could
help avoid or ease heartburn.
In heartburn, also called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), stomach
acid flows back into the esophagus, the tube leading from the throat to the
Obesity raises the risk of GERD and two other conditions -- erosive
esophagitis and cancer of the esophagus -- write Howard Hampel, MD, and
Hampel's team works at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical
Center at Houston's Baylor College of Medicine. Their report appears in the
Annals of Internal Medicine.
The researchers analyzed nine studies done from 1966 to 2004. Six studies
showed a notable link between obesity and GERD.
"The association between BMI and GERD complications was markedly
consistent," write the researchers. None of the studies showed any GERD
benefits from obesity, and the studies that didn't strongly link obesity and
GERD tilted in that direction, they write.
Check Your Heartburn Symptoms
In eight of the nine studies, as BMI (body mass index -- a measure of body
fat ) rose, so did GERD symptoms, write the researchers, who set quality
standards for the studies they reviewed.
What's the Connection?
How does obesity make GERD more likely? The researchers aren't sure.
They mention a few theories, including excess body fat compressing the
stomach, the effects of food (especially fatty foods), and hernias. But they
didn't find evidence that settled the matter.
The GERD-obesity link should get more research, write Hampel and
Meanwhile, they offer this advice: "It is prudent to counsel all
overweight patients who present with GERD-related diseases that weight loss may
help improve symptoms."