Reflux-inducing dietary factors and risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and gastric cardia

Nutr Cancer. 2000;38(2):186-91. doi: 10.1207/S15327914NC382_7.


Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is the strongest known risk factor for esophageal adenocarcinoma. For long-term sufferers with severe symptoms, the excess risk may exceed 40-fold. GER has also been shown to increase the risk of cancers of the gastric cardia more than fourfold. Several foods, including dietary fat, chocolate, mints, coffee, onions, citrus fruit, and tomatoes, have been associated with temporary symptoms of reflux, most likely through a relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Our aim was to determine whether these foods are associated with risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus or gastric cardia. We studied intakes of LES-relaxing foods and other dietary habits potentially associated with reflux in a nationwide population-based case-control study in Sweden, with 185 and 258 cases of esophageal adenocarcinoma and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma, respectively, and 815 controls. We found no association between LES-relaxing foods and symptoms of chronic reflux, although this might be due to avoidance of these foods among sufferers. In addition, we found no association between dietary factors known to cause LES relaxation and the risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus or gastric cardia. Our findings indicate that dietary factors associated with LES relaxation and transient GER (but perhaps not severe chronic reflux) are not associated with any important risk of esophageal malignancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Aged
  • Cardia / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Esophagogastric Junction / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Time Factors