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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Men, Women May Experience Acid Reflux Differently

Study Shows Men Report Fewer Symptoms but Appear to Have More Severe Reflux Disease

Are Men Suffering in Silence? continued...

He says the study may help to explain why four times as many men die of esophageal cancer than women.

"You have to ask the question: Why is it that middle-aged white males in our country seem to be afflicted with Barrett's esophagus and esophageal carcinoma and so forth? Maybe their stoic personalities have something to do with it," says Starpoli, who was not part of the study.

Indeed, so many men shy away from seeing doctors even for regular checkups that the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently got involved, posting red signs on billboards and in malls that read: "This year thousands of men will die of stubbornness."

Mechanics of Acid Reflux May Differ

Other experts say the findings could also mean that different mechanical processes are more likely to be driving acid reflux in women compared to men.

"Gastroesophageal reflux disease really encompasses a lot of different disease processes," says Matthew Kroh, MD, an assistant professor of surgery at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner College of Medicine in Ohio.

Previous studies have found that women are less likely than men to be satisfied with the results of surgeries called fundoplications, where the upper stomach is wrapped around the lower part of the esophagus to help tighten the leaky valve.

Part of the reason for that, Kroh thinks, is that they may need a different kind of fix for their problem.

"I think the treatment for GERD needs to be tailored to the particular presentation of a patient," says Kroh, who was not involved in the research." This obviously focuses on sex, but I think there are going to be a whole slew of variables that really predict better outcomes for patients."

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