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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Jan 21;90(2):150-5.

Body mass index and risk of adenocarcinomas of the esophagus and gastric cardia.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



Incidence rates have risen rapidly for esophageal adenocarcinoma and moderately for gastric cardia adenocarcinoma, while rates have remained stable for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and have declined steadily for noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma. We examined anthropometric risk factors in a population-based case-control study of esophageal and gastric cancers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and western Washington.


Healthy control subjects (n = 695) and case patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma or noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma (n = 589) were frequency-matched to case patients with adenocarcinomas of esophagus or gastric cardia (n = 554) by 5-year age groups, sex, and race (New Jersey only). Classification of cases by tumor site of origin and histology was determined by review of pathology materials and hospital records. Data were collected using in-person structured interviews. Associations with obesity, measured by body mass index (BMI), were estimated by odds ratios (ORs). All ORs were adjusted for geographic location, age, sex, race, cigarette smoking, and proxy response status.


The ORs for esophageal adenocarcinoma rose with increasing adult BMI. The magnitude of association with BMI was greater among the younger age groups and among nonsmokers. The ORs for gastric cardia adenocarcinoma rose moderately with increasing BMI. Adult BMI was not associated with risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma or noncardia gastric adenocarcinoma.


Increasing prevalence of obesity in the United States population may have contributed to the upward trends in esophageal and gastric cardia adenocarcinomas.

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