Combined effects of obesity, acid reflux and smoking on the risk of adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus

Gut. 2008 Feb;57(2):173-80. doi: 10.1136/gut.2007.131375. Epub 2007 Oct 11.


Objective: To measure the relative risks of adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus and gastro-oesophageal junction associated with measures of obesity, and their interactions with age, sex, gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms and smoking.

Design and setting: Population-based case-control study in Australia.

Patients: Patients with adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus (n = 367) or gastro-oesophageal junction (n = 426) were compared with control participants (n = 1580) sampled from a population register.

Main outcome measure: Relative risk of adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus or gastro-oesophageal junction.

Results: Risks of oesophageal adenocarcinoma increased monotonically with body mass index (BMI) (p(trend) <0.001). Highest risks were seen for BMI >or=40 kg/m2 (odds ratio (OR) = 6.1, 95% CI 2.7 to 13.6) compared with "healthy" BMI (18.5-24.9 kg/m2). Adjustment for gastro-oesophageal reflux and other factors modestly attenuated risks. Risks associated with obesity were substantially higher among men (OR = 2.6, 95% CI 1.8 to 3.9) than women (OR = 1.4, 95% CI 0.5 to 3.5), and among those aged <50 years (OR = 7.5, 95% CI 1.7 to 33.0) than those aged >or=50 years (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.5 to 3.1). Obese people with frequent symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux had significantly higher risks (OR = 16.5, 95% CI 8.9 to 30.6) than people with obesity but no reflux (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.1 to 4.3) or reflux but no obesity (OR = 5.6, 95% 2.8 to 11.3), consistent with a synergistic interaction between these factors. Similar associations, but of smaller magnitude, were seen for gastro-oesophageal junction adenocarcinomas.

Conclusions: Obesity increases the risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma independently of other factors, particularly among men. From a clinical perspective, these data suggest that patients with obesity and frequent symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux are at especially increased risk of adenocarcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Esophagogastric Junction
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*