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Scientists identify how gastric reflux may trigger asthma
Date:7/21/2008

Journal of Clinical Investigation. "These data suggest that chronic micro-aspiration of gastric fluid can drive the immune system toward an asthmatic response."

"This does not mean that everyone with GERD is going to develop asthma, by any means," says William Parker, an assistant professor of surgery at Duke and a co-author of the study. "But it may mean that people with GERD may be more likely to develop asthma. If there is an upside to this, it is that developing GERD is something we can pretty much treat and control."

Parker says poor diet, a lack of exercise and obesity all contribute to the development of GERD, and that rising rates of reflux disease are part of a "perfect storm" of environmental and behavioral factors driving escalating rates of asthma, particularly in Western cultures. "People should avoid the risk factors for GERD. We strongly believe that the rise in asthma, particularly among adults in the country, is in large measure due to lifestyle choices that can be changed."

Lin and Parker agree that much more work needs to be done to fully understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the relationship between reflux disease and asthma, but both feel their study offers new directions for developing additional treatment options for both problems.

Lin says patients who already have GERD can minimize gastric reflux and thereby lessen their chances of developing asthma by following a few simple guidelines: Eat smaller meals and eat several hours before going to bed; raise the head of the bed a few inches; maintain a healthy weight; and limit fatty goods, coffee, tea, caffeine and alcohol they can relax the esophageal sphincter and make reflux more likely.


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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
michelle.gailiun@duke.edu
919-660-1306
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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