The proportion of people suffering acid reflux has jumped almost 50 per cent in a decade, research has suggested.
The condition has been linked to obesity, diets high in fatty foods, alcohol and smoking, and is associated with an increased risk of oesophageal (gullet) cancer.
But some people develop acid reflux for no known reason while others have a problem with the muscle at the bottom of their oesophagus. Symptoms of the condition, known in full as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (Gord), include heartburn, a sour taste in the mouth caused by stomach acid coming back up, and difficulty swallowing.
Published in the journal Gut, the research of almost 30,000 people in Norway, found women seem to develop the condition more than men, while severe symptoms tend to affect the middle-aged to a greater extent.
Between 1995/7 and 2006/9 the prevalence of acid reflux symptoms rose 30 per cent, while that of severe symptoms rose by 24 per cent. And the prevalence of acid reflux symptoms experienced at least once a week rose by 47 per cent. Women under 40 were the least likely to have any acid reflux, but were more likely to develop symptoms as they aged. The prevalence was stable among men, regardless of their age.
The researchers say the increase of the condition is “alarming”.