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9/11 Tied to Increase in Acid Reflux Disease
Date:9/6/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Those who were directly exposed to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on 9/11 appear to face an increased risk for developing long-lasting symptoms of acid reflux disease, New York City health researchers reported Tuesday.

The current analysis backs up previous indications that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms are more likely to develop in those who also have asthma and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But GERD symptoms showed up independent of other health issues for people who were in the vicinity of the Twin Towers when they collapsed.

The findings are reported by a team led by Jiehui Li, from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and are published in the Sept. 6 online edition of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Prior research has already established that individuals directly exposed to the World Trade Center attacks have a higher-than-average incidence of GERD, asthma, and/or PTSD.

But the health team wanted to explore whether 9/11 gave rise to GERD independently. To do this, they looked back at data collected by the World Trade Center Health Registry, which was set up in 2002 to track the health status of those exposed to the attacks, including rescue and recovery workers, local residents, passers-by, and those employed and working in the vicinity of the towers.

Focusing on a pool of more than 37,000 adults, which amounted to a little more than half of the Registry's database, the authors analyzed responses to two health questionnaires administered in 2003-2004 and 2006-2007.

None of the participants had ever reported having GERD symptoms before 9/11.

The surveys collected information on the type and duration of environmental exposure on 9/11 and the days after. Exposure included direct contact with the dust and debris from the buildings' collaps
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