Esophageal cancer in African blacks of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa: an epidemiological brief

Ethn Dis. Autumn 2005;15(4):786-9.


Background: Esophageal cancer is the most common carcinoma in Black South African men. A number of etiological factors have been associated with the high prevalence.

Objectives: The present study was undertaken to address social and environmental factors associated with the cancer in the African Black population of KwaZulu-Natal. CASE-CONTROL STUDIES AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: The total number of cases recruited was 208. Of these, 87 were esophageal cancer patients, 61 nonesophageal or other-cancer patients, and 60 were non-cancer patients. We tested several symptoms and risk factors to find out causes of the cancer: eyes watering (symptom), smoking, effects of smoking and alcohol consumption combined, and consumption of beer fermented with infected maize.

Results and conclusions: Our study demonstrated statistically significant differences between the rates of eyes watering or smoking in the esophageal and the non-esophageal cancer patients. Further, a statistically significant difference was found in the rates of eyes watering between esophageal cancer and non-cancer patients. There was indeed a significant difference in the number of cases of esophageal cancer between patients who smoked or drank beer and those who did not. Patients who drank beer fermented from infected maize were more likely to have esophageal cancer than non-cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • South Africa / epidemiology