Genetic Factors

With many chronic ailments, there is often an underlying genrtic predisposition, and there are indicators that GERD may run in families. Researchers reported their findings in the American Journal of Medicine in 2007 on questionnaires from 2000 people in Minnesota. They identified those individuals who experienced reflux symptoms at least weekly and then compared their histories with other GERD sufferers.

The predominant factors the researchers found that related to GERD were, in this order:
  • obesity
  • another family member with heartburn or diseases of the stomach or esophagus
  • a history of smoking
  • alcohol consumption of seven or more drinks per week.
Obesity, alcoholism, and other forms off addiction have also been proven in the past to have a genetic component to them. .

Researchers found that GERD was significantly prominent in the biological family member of patientss who had Barrett's esophagus (a precancerous condition that untreated GERD can lead to) compared ato the control group of spouses. The researchers also looked at patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma, a form of cancer, and found that GERD was more prevalent among the parents and siblings of patients than among the control group.

Does this mean that if you have a family member who has esophageal cancer or evren GERD, you are doomed to develop GERD yourself? Or does it perhaps mean that, for example, if another family member is obese, then youa are doomed to being overweight yourself, which in turn, will lead inexorably to GERD?

The good news is that even though GERD appears to have a strong genetic component, humans can make choices. For example, they may have a predisposition to substance abuse - and alcohol is one of the contributors to the development of GERD. But with the help of their physician and other experts, individuals with alcoholics in their famil can make the choice to "just say no" to the harmful lifestyle, if not to their aberrant genes. They can also seek out support from such organizations as Alcoholics Anonymous and others.

If you come from a family in which many members are obese or exhibit negative behaviors that are linked to the development or worsening of GERD, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, I strongly recommend you make the choice to resolve these issues.