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World Trade Center Workers Have More Cases of Acid Reflux
Date:10/26/2009

Study shows they have doubled risk of GERD, may be linked to mental fallout

MONDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- World Trade Center rescue workers can add another illness to the list of health problems that may have resulted from exposure to Ground Zero toxins and the ensuing mental anguish of the tragedy -- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

A new study shows that 41 percent of World Trade Center responders have GERD, twice that of the general population. GERD is a condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter doesn't function properly, allowing the stomach's contents to rise up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest or throat.

The likelihood of having GERD was linked to mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. The more extensive the mental health issues, the more likely patients were to have GERD.

About 47 percent of those diagnosed with one mental health disorder also had GERD. About 64 percent of those who had two mental health disorders had GERD, while the rates of GERD rose to 70 percent and 72 percent for those who had three or four mental health disorders, respectively.

"These patients were exposed to a very complex trauma -- both psychological and physical," explained senior study author Dr. Benjamin Luft, a professor of medicine at State University of New York at Stony Brook and director of the Long Island World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program. "Unless you treat both of these things at the same time, they tend to exacerbate one another. It's the close interaction between mind and the body. The physical may impact you psychologically, and the psychological may impact you physically."

The study was scheduled to be presented Monday at the American College of Gastroenterology's annual meeting in San Diego.

Previous research has found that people with mental health issues tend to have m
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