Junk food is not only causing obesity but heartburn or acidity leading to ulcers and even cancer in food pipe, a study claimed.

The nation-wide study has found that heartburn is affecting about three out of five urban Indians.

The study conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bhopal and Hyderabad showed that irregular food eating habits is another cause for heartburn among 71 per cent of the urban adult population.

Food related problems constitute the largest chunk of reasons leading to acidity.The two main reasons for acidity are Junk food and Irregular food eating habits.

“In most parts of India, people love to eat out and that results in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease,” said Anup Singh, who heads the Health Care Welfare society, an NGO that works on health-related matters. . GRE is a condition in which acid, bile and partially-digested food in the stomach back up into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.

Heartburn happens when the esophagus comes in contact with stomach acids. If it is overlooked or not treated, it could lead to ulcers and bleeding of the esophagus. Also, there is a danger that it could lead to the cancer of the food pipe or esophagus,” Singh said.

Spicy and chilly based food like pizza, spicy curries, chips and snacks — a must at parties, celebrations and social gathering are the main culprits (10 per cent) that are changing eating habits as well as interfering with lifestyle activities.

Fifty-seven per cent of frequent heartburn sufferers said that irregular eating habits especially eating out have caused them heartburn more than once in a given month.

People in Lucknow, Mumbai, Chennai are the ones who are eating out more as compared to the other cities that were surveyed, he said.

Apart from spicy food, the other factors that result in heartburn are long working hours (9), stress (7) and lack of sleep (6).

Episodic heartburn (that occurs more than two times in a week) is less serious and more common. “A number of people manage their symptoms by avoiding certain foods or take Diegene, Eno or Pudin Hara to get constant relief,” Singh said.

But for those with frequent heartburn, it could be a sign of something more serious.

A total of 400 people were surveyed who had suffered heartburn at least once in a month.

The rise of the heartburns portrays the study of social change in urban India where long working hours and erratic lifestyle have made it harder for people to prepare balanced meals at home, increasing the appeal of fast food and on-the-go-snacks, he said.

Singh said heartburn strikes when there is a burning pain in chest and throat, belching often with chest discomfort. The other signs are indigestion, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation.

“As there are so many people suffering from fits of heartburn, people dealing with frequent heartburn aren’t always sure if their problem is out of ordinary. One should take it seriously if their symptoms continue,” the report said.