Embargoed for Release Until: Sunday, October 17, 1999, 6:00 p.m.

Contact: Jeffrey Macdonald (202) 973-2903
Jennifer Armstrong (202) 973-2930

Athletes Are at Greater Risk for Heartburn and Other Gastrointestinal Problems -- Study Shows Certain Sports Cause More Severe GI Distress Than Others

Phoenix, AZ, October 18, 1999 -- Athletes who compete in a variety of sports are more likely to experience gastrointestinal (GI) distress and heartburn than the general population, according to a recent study conducted by the Oklahoma Foundation for Digestive Research and the University of Oklahoma Department of Health and Sport Sciences. This research was released today at the 64th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).

Seventy-two percent of athletes reported one or more lower bowel symptoms after exercising, and 43% experienced heartburn-related symptoms. The study analyzed 319 subjects who regularly participated in sports, including runners, cyclists, weightlifters, and multi-sport athletes. Researchers found that GI complaints are frequent in athletes and that the severity of their symptoms appear to be related to the intensity of training, which is consistent with the known effects of exercise on normal gastrointestinal physiology.

Two separate studies, also conducted by the Oklahoma Foundation for Digestive Research and the University of Oklahoma Department of Health and Sport Sciences, examined cyclists and weightlifters as individual groups. In both studies, the groups were monitored for GI distress in two separate trials prior to, during, and following exercising. In the first trial, a meal preceded exercise; in the second trial, athletes exercised on an empty stomach.

Of the 10 conditioned cyclists studied, 9 reported mild acid reflux while cycling; cycling after eating increased the intensity of the reflux. Most cyclists reported that the severity of their symptoms increased with their exertion level. Researchers concluded that while cycling induces milder GI reactions than other sports, cyclists do suffer from minor GI and heartburn symptoms and would benefit from prophylactic antisecretory therapy with an agent which inhibits the production of stomach acid before exercising.

In a similar study, researchers found that weightlifting produced moderate to severe acid reflux. As with cyclists, the severity of symptoms increased as exertion levels rose. The study also investigated whether the type of exercise (upper-body vs. lower-body) and body position (upright vs. reclined) affected the severity of acid reflux. Researchers found that neither exercise type nor body position influenced the severity of the symptoms. As with cyclists, prophylactic antisecretory therapy was recommended as a treatment option to reduce acid reflux in weightlifters.

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The ACG was formed in 1932 to advance the scientific study and medical treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. The College promotes the highest standards in medical education and is guided by its commitment to meeting the needs of clinical gastroenterology practitioners.

Consumers can get more information on GI diseases through the following ACG-sponsored programs:

* 1-800-978-7666 (free brochures on common GI disorders, including ulcers, colon cancer, gallstones and liver disease)
* 1-800-HRT-BURN (free brochure and video on heartburn and GERD)
* www.acg.gi.org (ACG's Web site)