The study also found that smoking and obesity, known risk factors for GERD, did not increase the risk of GERD, while spending a lot of time at Ground Zero did.
In a second study to be presented at the meeting, researchers found that active-duty military who were exposed to infectious gastroenteritis were more likely to have "functional gastrointestinal disorders," including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, functional constipation and dyspepsia (indigestion).
Infectious gastroenteritis is caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites.
Researchers used electronic medical records from the Defense Medical Surveillance System to identify 31,866 cases of gastrointestinal disease among active-duty personnel between 1999 and 2007. For some, the gastrointestinal disturbances were long-lasting. About 29 percent of active duty personnel were still being treated for gastrointestinal disorders two years after diagnosis.
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse has more on GERD.
SOURCES: Benjamin Luft, M.D., professor, medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and director, Long Island World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program; David A. Johnson, M.D., professor, medicine, and chief, gastroenterology, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, and past president, America College of Gastroenterology; Oct. 26, 2009, presentations, American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, San Diego