Barrett's esophagus (BE) is an acquired disorder due to chronic gastroesophageal reflux. Environmental factors seem to play an important role in the pathogenesis of BE, especially in Western society. A multicenter case-control study was carried out between February 1995 and April 1999 in 8 Italian Departments of Gastroenterology gathered in a study group (GOSPE), in order to analyze the influence of some individual characteristics and life-style habits on the occurrence of BE. Three groups of patients were studied: 149 patients with BE, 143 patients with esophagitis (E) and 308 hospital controls (C) with acute, non-neoplastic, non-gastroenterological conditions. The diagnosis of BE was based on endoscopy and histology. E was defined by the Savary classification (grade I-III). Data collection was performed by using a questionnaire that focused on smoking, coffee and alcohol consumption, medical history, drugs history, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms (heartburn, regurgitation) and socio-economic status. Multivariate analysis showed that the frequency of weekly GERD symptoms was significantly associated with both BE and E (p<0.0001), such as the presence of hiatal hernia (p< or =0.001). Ulcer was significantly associated with BE (p=0.001). Among patients with E, the risk was directly related to spirits consumption (p=0.03). Patients with GERD symptoms that lasted more than 13 years were more likely to have BE than E (p=0.01). In conclusion, results from our study point out that long-standing GERD symptoms, hiatal hernia and possibly alcohol consumption are risk factors in the development of the BE and E.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.