Stopping smoking was associated with ending reflux symptoms in normal-weight people who had been using anti-reflux medications, a study showed.
Researchers in Norway conducted a prospective, population-based cohort study from 1995-1997 to 2006-2009 among all adults in one county considered representative of Norway as a whole. The study (61% response rate) included nearly 30,000 people who reported whether they had heartburn or reflux.
Results appeared online Dec. 10 at the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
Among individuals using anti-reflux medication at least weekly, stopping smoking was associated with improvement from severe to no or minor complaints (adjusted OR 1.78; 95% CI, 1.07 to 2.97), compared with persistent daily smoking among people with a normal body-mass index (OR, 5.67; 95% CI, 1.36 to 23.64), but not among overweight people.
There was no association between stopping smoking and reflux among people with minor reflux or those who used anti-reflux medication less than once a week.
The lack of improvement in overweight individuals suggests that the association between weight and reflux dominates any effect between smoking and reflux, the researchers noted, Also, the lack of improvement among people who don’t use medications as frequently suggests that people with more symptoms have more advanced stages of the disease, such as esophagitis or a hiatal hernia, which does not resolve only with tobacco smoking cessation.
Still, weight loss and tobacco smoking cessation might reduce the need for medication over time, and the authors pointed out the many other benefits of stopping smoking.