A group of scientists recently discovered an association between being overweight and a disease called gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) in women.
This discovery was published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology by a research group led by Dr. Corazziari from the University La Sapienza of Rome. He and his fellow researchers (with Dr. Piretta being the first author of this article) discovered that, in comparison to average population, overweight and obesity are risk factors for GERD in women and not so much in men.
GERD is a disease with chronic symptoms or mucosal damage produced by the abnormal reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus. Heartburn (burning discomfort behind the breastbone) is the major symptom of GERD because the gastric acid gets into esophagus.
It is known that fatty foods produce a prolonged inhibitory effect on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), particularly following intra-duodenal lipid perfusion, but this inhibitory effect would appear due to a cholecystokinin-mediated action on LES.
An epidemiological study revealed that overweightedness, but not excess fatty food intake, increases the risk of hospitalisation for GERD. Gastric distention following a copious meal also relaxes LER and increases the possibility of GERD.
Had these mechanisms play big roles in the patients studied by Dr Corazziari, then the overweight male patients (not just female) should also have a significant higher possibility of GERD than general population.
Since estrogen can also inhibit the LES, Dr. Corazziari suggests that concentration of this hormone may be a possible explanation of increased GERD prevalence in obese females.
Reference: World J Gastroenterol 2007; 13(34): 4602-4605
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