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For women, weight gain spells heartburn

A study of more than 10,000 women suggests that weight gain is associated with heartburn.

Furthermore, while previous research had linked obesity with heartburn, a report in the June 1 New England Journal of Medicine indicates that any woman above her ideal body weight has an increased risk of such symptoms.

Heartburn and acid regurgitation are the two main symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which affects one in five people in the United States weekly and costs the health care industry $10 billion a year.

"Any excess body fat carries with it an extra risk of having heartburn," says Brian Jacobson, who led the study at the Boston Medical Center. For example, he says, a 5-foot-6-inch woman weighing 140 pounds, though not considered overweight, has a 40 percent higher risk of having heartburn than a woman of the same height who weighs 125 pounds.

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