Weight Loss Helps GERD

The Heavier You Are, the Higher Your Reflux Risk

From the WebMD Archives

July 2, 2003 -- The heavier you are, the more likely it is you'll have recurrent heartburn or regurgitation. The glad tidings: Weight loss reduces these painful symptoms.

People in industrialized nations are getting fatter and fatter. And GERD -- gastroesophageal reflux disease -- is becoming more and more common. It's not just a coincidence, report Magnus Nilsson, MD, of Sweden's Karolinska Institute, and colleagues in the July 2 issue of TheJournal of the American Medical Association.

After combing through huge public health surveys conducted in Sweden, the researchers found that as body mass increases, so does the risk of GERD. It's a particularly strong link for women.

Moreover, hormone replacement therapy slightly increases GERD risk for normal-weight postmenopausal women. But as women become heavier, hormone therapy is linked to even more GERD symptoms. Estrogen-only hormone therapy had a more pronounced effect than combined hormone therapy.

"This study demonstrates a strong and dose-dependent association between increasing body mass and symptomatic reflux in women and a moderate association among men," Nilsson and colleagues conclude. "The study also reveals that weight loss is associated with reduced risk of reflux symptoms."

SOURCE: The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 2, 2003.