Background & aims: Barrett's esophagus (BE) is associated with esophageal adenocarcinoma, the incidence of which has been increasing dramatically. The prevalence of BE in the general population is uncertain because upper endoscopy is required for diagnosis. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of BE and possible associated risk factors in an adult Swedish population.
Methods: A random sample (n = 3000) of the adult population (n = 21,610) in 2 municipalities was surveyed using a validated gastrointestinal symptom questionnaire (response rate, 74%); a random subsample (n = 1000; mean age, 53.5 years; 51% female) underwent upper endoscopy. Endoscopic signs suggestive of columnar-lined esophagus (CLE) were defined as mucosal tongues or an upward shift of the squamocolumnar junction. BE was diagnosed when specialized intestinal metaplasia was detected histologically in suspected CLE.
Results: BE was present in 16 subjects (1.6%; 95% confidence interval, 0.8-2.4): 5 with a long segment and 11 with a short segment. Overall, 40% reported reflux symptoms and 15.5% showed esophagitis; 103 (10%) had suspected CLE, and 12 (1.2%) had a visible segment > or = 2 cm. The prevalence of BE in those with reflux symptoms was 2.3% and in those without reflux symptoms was 1.2% (P = .18). In those with esophagitis, the prevalence was 2.6%; in those without, the prevalence was 1.4% (P = .32). Alcohol (P = .04) and smoking (P = .047) were independent risk factors for BE.
Conclusions: BE was found in 1.6% of the general Swedish population. Alcohol and smoking were significant risk factors.