Obesity and Diet Linked to Adenocarcinoma of the Esophagus

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Kathleen Feehery
University of Pensylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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An article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has reported finding a link between obesity and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. The study, which consisted of 174 white men with adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and 750 control subjects, also discovered a decreased risk in people whose regular diet consisted of raw fruit and vegetables, and dietary fibers. This population-based, case-control interview trial was conducted from 1986 to 1989.

Dr. L. Brown, the study's first author, contends that the analysis may provide further clues to the reason for a rising incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma. The incidence has increased rapidly in the United States over the past two decades, and little is known about the etiology of these cancers.

Previous analyses have shown the three main risk factors for esophageal adenocarcinoma to be smoking, alcohol, and lower socioeconomic status.

Although Dr. Brown's study reported an increased risk with obesity, no significant associations were detected for total calories from food, number of meals per day, and total fat intake when obesity was taken into account.

The authors feel that obesity may be an independent risk factor in adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and that their report may "provide leads for further etiologic investigations of esophageal adenocarcinoma"

Reference Brown LM, Swanson CA, Gridley G, Swanson GM, Shoenberg JB, Greenberg RS, Silverman DT, Pottern LM, Hayes RB, Schwartz AG, Liff JM, Fraumeni JF Jr., Hoover RN. Adenocarcinoma of the Esophagus: Role of Obesity and Diet. JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE 87: 104-109, JANUARY 18, 1995.