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Gastroenterology. 1997 Nov;113(5):1449-56.

Familial aggregation of gastroesophageal reflux in patients with Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



Barrett's esophagus and adenocarcinoma are complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease. The aim of this study was to look for evidence of a familial predisposition to reflux.


Index patients with adenocarcinoma (n = 27), Barrett's esophagus (n = 40), and reflux esophagitis (n = 55) were recruited from tertiary care and community populations. Parents and siblings of patients (n = 243) and their spouses' relatives (n = 230) completed reflux symptom questionnaires (response rate, 86%).


Reflux symptoms were significantly more prevalent among parents and siblings of patients with adenocarcinoma (43% vs. 23%) and Barrett's esophagus (46% vs. 27%) than spouse control relatives. No significant difference was found for the reflux esophagitis group (33% vs. 29%). Reflux was more prevalent in siblings than spouses of patients with Barrett's esophagus (41% vs. 12%) and adenocarcinoma (40% vs. 6%), a difference that was not found with reflux esophagitis (24% vs. 32%). Reflux was associated with obesity, 41% vs. 28% in the nonobese; smoking, 45% vs. 31% in nonsmokers; and men, 39% vs. 27% in women.


There may be a genetic predisposition to the development of reflux in families of patients with Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. For uncomplicated reflux esophagitis, environmental factors appear more important.

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