from the Society of General Internal Medicine annual meeting, Miami Beach
Surfers have a 3.7 times increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), according to a study that compared reflux symptoms in 185 surfers and 178 nonsurfing athletes.
“I’m a surfer,” said Dr. Marc Kaneshiro, an internal medicine resident at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He and his colleagues launched a study after hearing common complaints of GERD symptoms among his patients and friends who surf.
Increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by paddling prone on a surfboard would be the culprit, they proposed. They found 21% of surfers versus 7% of other athletes experienced GERD symptoms at least twice a week, a significant difference.
“It made a lot of sense to us,” Dr. Kaneshiro said. But “we didn’t expect it to be only short boarders.” Surfers who use a short board were significantly more likely to experience GERD than are nonsurfers, he said. A slight increase among long boarders was not significantly different.
Even when these surfers find out about the link to their symptoms, “they are still going to surf,” Dr. Kaneshiro predicted. Physicians can recommend surfers in their practice avoid meals beforehand and consider use of anti-GERD medications.