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Postmenopausal Estrogen May Increase Reflux Symptoms

Findings show trend toward more reflux symptoms in postmenopausal women on estrogen

THURSDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women may slightly increase the incidence of gastroesophageal reflux, according to research published in the July issue of Gastroenterology.

Zongli Zheng, M.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from 27,347 women in the Women's Health Initiative hormone trials, in which postmenopausal women with hysterectomy were randomized to receive either placebo or conjugated equine estrogens, and women without hysterectomy received placebo or estrogen plus progesterone. Subjects reported severity of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms at baseline and at one year, and provided measurements for body mass index and waist circumference.

The estrogen group showed a trend toward a modestly higher incidence of symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux compared with the placebo group (4.2 versus 3.1 percent), though no such association was seen with the estrogen plus progestin treatment, the researchers report. Baseline obesity had a dose-response association with incident moderate or severe gastroesophageal reflux, the report indicates.

"Our data showed that postmenopausal hormone therapy led to a small decrease in waist circumference, but the effect was negligible as far as symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux was concerned, at least at one year," the authors write. "In conclusion, estrogen therapy may modestly increase the incidence of gastroesophageal reflux. Obesity causes gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, and weight loss alleviates the symptoms. Weight control is an effective method (or treatment) for preventing gastroesophageal reflux and for improving existing symptoms."

This study was partially supported by Wyeth.

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