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Obesity Increases Risk of Esophageal Cancer

Gastro-esophageal reflux also increases risk

FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity and gastro-esophageal reflux increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer, according to a report published online Oct. 11 in Gut.

David C. Whiteman, Ph.D., from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues examined the impact of factors including obesity, acid reflux and smoking on the risk of adenocarcinoma in 367 patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma, 426 patients with adenocarcinoma of the gastro-esophageal junction and 1,580 control patients from a population register.

The researchers found that the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma increased with increasing body mass index (BMI) with an odds ratio of 6.1 for severely obese (BMI of 40 or higher) compared with normal-weight individuals. The risk was significantly higher in men and in those under 50 years of age. Gastro-esophageal reflux added to the risk of obesity with an odds ratio of 16.5 compared with 2.2 for obesity alone and 5.6 for reflux alone.

"Obesity increases the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma independently of other factors, particularly among men," Whiteman and colleagues conclude. "From a clinical perspective, these data suggest that patients with obesity and frequent symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux are at especially increased risk of adenocarcinoma."

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