Almost three in four Indians say they suffer from acid reflux caused by eating junk food too often. A survey of 400 people in eight cities found that acid reflux is a common problem among urban Indians, which, if left untreated, could lead to ulcers in the oesophagus (gullet or the tube which takes food from the mouth to the stomach).
Frequent ulceration can, in turn, lead to cancer of the oesophagus, which is among the top three cancers in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Ahmedabad, according to The Indian Council of Medical Research.
Acid reflux happens when some acid from the stomach leaks up into the oesophagus.
The study, conducted by the NGO Health Care Welfare Society (HCWS), questioned men and women between 25 and 55 in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bhopal and Hyderabad.
Of those surveyed, 71 per cent people complained of heartburn caused by irregular eating habits and 10 per cent blamed the problem squarely on junk food – both Indian and Western - and spicy curries. The rest also factored in long working hours, stress and lack of sleep.
"Since it was a common problem, however, most people surveyed do not think of it as a disease,” says Anup Singh, president, HCWS.
"Acid reflux is now frequently reported among young people, unlike in the past when only adults complained of it,” said Dr SK Sama, chairman, department of gastroenterology, Ganga Ram Hospital.