In the United States, whites are more affected by esophageal adenocarcinoma than blacks.
It is unknown whether this racial discrepancy reflects a higher prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms or a higher degree of esophageal damage.
In this study, doctors from Texas, USA, performed a cross-sectional survey followed by endoscopy in employees at a VA medical center.
The team analyzed the association between race, GERD symptoms and erosive esophagitis.
| Black people have a lower prevalence of esophagitis.|
A total of 496 employees returned interpretable questionnaires. Endoscopy was performed in 215 of these participants. Participants mean age was 45 years.
The team found that 68% of participants were women, and 43% were black, 34% white, and 23% other races.
The doctors found that heartburn occurring at least weekly was reported in 27% of blacks, 23% of whites, and 24% of other races.
The team determined that the age-adjusted prevalence of heartburn or regurgitation was not significantly different between the groups.
They found that 23% of participants had erosive esophagitis. Only one person had Barrett’s esophagus.
Black participants with weekly GERD symptoms had less frequent erosive esophagitis than white participants (24% versus 50%).
The doctors calculated that black participants had a persistently lower risk of esophagitis.
Dr Hashem El-Serag’s team concluded, “White and black people in the United States have a similarly high prevalence of GERD symptoms”.
“However, black people have a lower prevalence of esophagitis for the same frequency of GERD symptoms”.
“Barrett’s esophagus was rare in this study, even among those with frequent symptoms”.