Vegetarianism as a protective factor for reflux esophagitis: a retrospective, cross-sectional study between Buddhist priests and general population

Dig Dis Sci. 2013 Aug;58(8):2244-52. doi: 10.1007/s10620-013-2639-4. Epub 2013 Mar 19.


Background/aims: Several risk factors for reflux esophagitis, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and metabolic syndrome, are recognized. But vegetarianism as a protective factor for reflux esophagitis has not been reported. The aim of this study is to elucidate the protective effect of vegetarianism for reflux esophagitis.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study that compared the prevalence of reflux esophagitis of 148 Buddhist priests, who are obligatory vegetarians with that of age- and sex-matched controls who underwent health checkups in a health promotion center.

Results: The prevalence of reflux esophagitis was higher in the control group than in the Buddhist priest group (21.6 vs 12.2 %). Weight, body mass index, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and abdominal adipose tissue area were higher and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol were lower in the Buddhist priest group. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was higher in the Buddhist priest group than the control group (30.4 vs 17.6 %). In univariate analysis, male sex (odds ratio [OR] = 3.325; 95 % confidence interval [CI], 1.659-6.666), current smoking (OR = 3.37; 95 % CI, 1.439-7.881), alcohol consumption (OR = 2.75; 95 % CI, 1.375-5.481), waist circumference (OR = 1.99; 95 % CI, 1.062-3.739), negative for Helicobacter pylori IgG antibody (OR = 1.89; 95 % CI, 1.018-3.491) and non-vegetarianism (OR = 1.99; 95 % CI, 1.062-3.739) were associated with reflux esophagitis. According to multivariate analysis, male sex (OR = 3.44; 95 % CI, 1.698-6.970), non-vegetarianism (OR = 2.08; 95 % CI, 1.086-3.974) and negative H. pylori IgG antibody (OR = 1.96; 95 % CI, 1.039-3.712) were significantly associated with reflux esophagitis.

Conclusions: A non-vegetarian diet is associated with reflux esophagitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Buddhism*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors