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Increased risk of GERD after 9/11
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), gastoresophageal reflux disease (GERD) was reported by rescue and recovery workers as well as lower-Manhattan residents and local workers. While there is considerable evidence that asthma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were caused by WTC exposures, findings reported online this week in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, also establish that disaster-related environmental exposures may contribute to the independent development of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms (GERS).
GERD often coexists with asthma and PTSD, yet it is unclear which of these conditions may cause the others or whether they are caused by common stressors. Jiehui Li and colleagues carried out a retrospective analysis of more than 37,000 adults exposed to the WTC attacks who reported no pre-9/11 GERS. They examined new onset GERS thought to be connected to 9/11-related exposures and persisting up to five to six years. They then noted any potential associations between new onset GERS and asthma and PTSD. The study found that that post-9/11 persistent GERS was independently associated with 9/11-related exposures when people with asthma or PTSD were excluded from analyses.
The team also found that the cumulative incidence of post-9/11 persistent GERS was positively associated with higher-intensity 9/11-related exposures—such as prolonged exposure to the dust cloud—compared with lower exposures.
Jiehui Li (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NY, USA)
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