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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1995 Jan 18;87(2):104-9.

Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus: role of obesity and diet.

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  • 1Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



In the United States, the incidence of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, including the esophagogastric junction, has been increasing rapidly over the past two decades. Except for an association with Barrett's esophagus, little is known about the etiology of these cancers.


Our purpose was to investigate dietary and nutritional risk factors for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.


A population-based, case-control interview study of 174 white men with adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and 750 control subjects living in three areas of the United States was conducted during 1986 through 1989.


Risk was significantly elevated for subjects in the heaviest quartile compared with the lightest quartile of body mass index (odds ratio [OR] = 3.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.8-5.3). No significant associations were seen with total calories from food, number of meals eaten per day, level of fat intake, or consumption of coffee and tea. Risks were highest for those consuming the least amount of vegetables, with some evidence of a dose response for the subcategories of cruciferous vegetables (P for trend < .001) and vegetables consumed raw (P for trend = .10). A significantly elevated risk was also seen for those consuming the least amount of raw fruit (P for trend = .05). No clear associations were reported for intake of particular micronutrients overall or in supplements, but a significant protective effect was associated with increasing intake of dietary fiber (P for trend = .004).


The findings of an increased risk with obesity and decreased risks with intake of raw fruits and vegetables and dietary fiber provide useful directions to pursue in further investigations of this malignancy.


The finding with respect to obesity is particularly noteworthy, since it may explain at least a portion of the recent epidemic increases reported in the incidence of this tumor.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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