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Eur J Cancer. 2010 Sep;46(13):2473-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 Jun 3.

Male predominance of upper gastrointestinal adenocarcinoma cannot be explained by differences in tobacco smoking in men versus women.

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Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, Rockville, MD, USA.



Adenocarcinomas of the upper gastrointestinal tract (UGI) show remarkable male predominance. As smoking is a well-established risk factor, we investigated the role of tobacco smoking in the male predominance of UGI adenocarcinomas in the United States NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study.


A questionnaire was completed by 281,422 men and 186,133 women in 1995-1996 who were followed until 31st December 2003. Incident UGI adenocarcinomas were identified by linkage to state cancer registries. We present age-standardised cancer incidence rates per 100,000-person years and male/female ratios (M/F) calculated from age-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models, both with 95% confidence intervals (CI).


After 2013,142-person years follow-up, 338 adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus, 261 of gastric cardia and 222 of gastric non-cardia occurred in men. In women, 23 tumours of oesophagus, 36 of gastric cardia and 88 of gastric non-cardia occurred in 1351,958-person years follow-up. The age-standardised incidence rate of all adenocarcinoma sites was 40.5 (37.8-43.3) and 11.0 (9.2-12.8) in men and women, respectively. Among smokers, the M/F of all UGI adenocarcinomas was 3.4 (2.7-4.1), with a M/F of 7.3 (4.6-11.7) for tumours in oesophagus, 3.7 (2.5-5.4) for gastric cardia and 1.7 (1.2-2.3) for gastric non-cardia. In non-smokers, M/F ratios were 14.2 (5.1-39.5) for oesophagus, 6.1 (2.6-14.7) for gastric cardia and 1.3 (0.8-2.0) for gastric non-cardia. The overall M/F ratio was 3.0 (2.2-4.3).


The male predominance was similar in smokers and non-smokers for these cancer sites. These results suggest that the male predominance of upper GI adenocarcinomas cannot be explained by differences in smoking histories.

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