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Gastroesophageal Reflux a Benign Condition

No impact on mortality for majority of heartburn sufferers

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Gastroesophageal reflux is a benign condition that does not carry an increased risk of death, according to the results of a study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Nicholas J. Talley, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and colleagues conducted a study of 5,288 adults with a mean age of 53 years, of whom 2 percent reported daily heartburn, 13 percent reported weekly but less than daily heartburn, 40 percent reported infrequent heartburn and 35 percent responded that they had never had heartburn.

Ten years later, 83 percent of those who reported no heartburn were still alive, and there was no overall association between heartburn and increased risk of death. While the odds of death for daily heartburn sufferers were 1.16 times those of respondents with no heartburn, the odds for those with weekly or infrequent heartburn were 0.67 and 0.80, respectively.

"In this population-based cohort study with over 50,000 person-years of follow-up, the results suggest that those with reflux symptoms are not at increased risk of poorer survival. Indeed, those with intermediate frequencies of reflux symptoms tended to have better survival for unexplained reasons," the authors write. "Although extraesophageal manifestations occur in some people with reflux disease, our results suggest that this disease is a benign condition in the vast majority of sufferers."

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