Antioxidants and cancers of the esophagus and gastric cardia

Int J Cancer. 2000 Sep 1;87(5):750-4.


Antioxidant vitamins have attracted considerable attention in previous studies of esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma, but dietary studies of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and gastric cardia remain sparse. Treating these tumors as distinct diseases, we studied intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol in a nationwide population-based case-control study in Sweden, with 185, 165, and 258 cases of esophageal adenocarcinoma, esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma, and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma, respectively, and 815 controls. Subjects with a high parallel intake of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and alpha-tocopherol showed a 40-50% decreased risk of both histological types of esophageal cancer compared with subjects with a low parallel intake. Antioxidant intake was not associated with the risk of gastric cardia adenocarcinoma. Separately, vitamin C and beta-carotene reduced the risk of esophageal cancers more than alpha-tocopherol. We found that antioxidant intake is associated with similar risk reductions for both main histological types of esophageal cancer. Our findings indicate that antioxidants do not explain the diverging incidence rates of the 2 histological types of esophageal cancer. Moreover, our data suggest that inverse associations with esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma may be stronger among subjects under presumed higher oxidative stress due to smoking or gastroesophageal reflux, respectively. Our results may be relevant for the implementation of focused, cost-effective preventive measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control*
  • Cardia / drug effects*
  • Cardia / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Drug Synergism
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage


  • Antioxidants
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Ascorbic Acid