Heartburn -that uncomfortable searing feeling in your stomach and chest, is spreading fast over India's urban population.
According to researchers, modern day life with its long work hours, higher stress and lesser time for sleep necessitates the purchase of fast foods and spicy snacks. And this is the root cause of the problem, they say.
A study conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bhopal and Hyderabad has come out with results which show that irregular food eating habits is a strong cause for heartburn - seen in three out of every five urban Indians.
While prevalence of heartburn was as high as 82 per cent in Delhi, known for its spicy chaats, Bhopal reported a 71 per cent prevalence, Kolkata 68 per cent, Lucknow (65 per cent), Mumbai (75 per cent), Chennai (66 per cent), Ahmedabad (68 per cent) and Hyderabad (72 per cent).
"Food related problems constitute the largest chunk of reasons leading to acidity. Junk food and irregular food eating habits are the two main reasons for acidity," says Anup Singh, head of the Health Care Welfare society, which carried out the research.
"In most parts of India, people love to eat out and that results in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease," he adds.
Accordingly, GRED 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.
While 10 per cent of the cause was blamed on spicy pizzas and curries - the major culprits, the others were stress (7 per cent), lack of sleep (6 per cent) and long working hours (9 per cent).
Say health professionals, heartburn if overlooked or left untreated, can lead to ulcers, bleeding of the esophagus and also cancer of the food pipe.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, frequent ulceration which leads to cancer of the esophagus, is among the top three cancers in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Ahmedabad.