ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
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Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
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Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
CANCER
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
CAREGIVING
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
EYE CARE, VISION
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
FITNESS
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Toxins May Form When Skin, Indoor Ozone Meet
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
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HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Optimism May Boost Immune System
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Add your Article

HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Women who take hormones to relieve symptoms of menopause have a higher risk of developing symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Also, women who use selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), used to treat breast cancer and osteoporosis, also have a higher risk of developing reflux, according to a study in the Sept. 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

SERMs, such as tamoxifen, are widely prescribed to treat breast cancer. Another SERM, raloxifene, is widely prescribed for the prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Almost two-thirds of the population experience GERD during the course of a year, while 20 percent to 30 percent have problems weekly or even more often.

"For a long time, people have thought that female hormones are in some way associated with heartburn," said study author Dr. Brian Jacobson, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. "Women who are pregnant, even in the first trimester before a great big belly pushes on the stomach, already experience heartburn."

In addition, women on oral contraceptives sometimes experience a relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acids to rise up into the esophagus.

No one, however, had looked to see if exogenous hormones, meaning those that come from outside the body, had an effect on GERD, although some studies have indicated that postmenopausal hormones might increase GERD symptoms in women who are overweight or obese.

The authors of this study reviewed information on 51,637 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study. Participants had provided information on both postmenopausal hormone use as well as symptoms of GERD every two years from 1976 through 2002.

Women who had used hormones had a 46 percent higher risk of having symptoms of GERD, compared with women who had never used postmenopausal hormones. Women currently using estrogen only had a 66 percent raised risk while those currently using combined estrogen and progesterone had a 41 percent increased risk.

The chances of developing GERD symptoms were higher with higher doses of hormones and longer duration of use.

Current SERM users had a 39 percent increased risk, while women taking over-the-counter preparations had an increased risk of 37 percent.

"This is important for a couple of reasons, one just for proof of principle in terms of the mechanisms and pathophysiology," Jacobson said. "We had always suspected [exogenous hormones] might do it. Now, we have more evidence that hormones do somehow cause people to get more heartburn.

The exact biological mechanisms aren't clear yet, but it looks like hormones may lower pressure in the esophageal sphincter.

Because of other risks, including heart attack and breast cancer, experts generally recommend that women limit their use of postmenopausal hormones.

And if a woman does take hormones and experiences heartburn, she might consider an alternative for her menopausal symptoms, Jacobson said.

"A woman [taking hormones who develops GERD] may need additional medication or she may make the decision with her doctor that it's not worth it to continue hormones," said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "GERD is something we will have to keep an eye on when putting patients on hormones. It's not an obvious symptom to patients. . . . so we may need to inform patients ahead of time."

More information

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse has more on GERD.



SOURCES: Brian Jacobson, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, Boston University School of Medicine; Jennifer Wu, obstetrician/gynecologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Sept. 8, 2008, Archives of Internal Medicine

Last Updated: Sept. 08, 2008

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