Background & aims: Alcohol consumption may increase gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, cause damage to the esophageal mucosa, and/or promote carcinogenesis. However, reports about the association between alcohol and reflux esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, and esophageal adenocarcinoma are conflicting.
Methods: Information relating to alcohol consumption, at age 21 and 5 years before the interview date, was collected from 230 reflux esophagitis, 224 Barrett's esophagus, and 227 esophageal adenocarcinoma patients and 260 frequency-matched population controls. Logistic regression analyses were used to compare alcohol consumption in the 3 case groups to controls with adjustment for potential confounders.
Results: Population controls reporting gastroesophageal reflux symptoms were less likely than controls without symptoms to drink alcohol 5 years before the interview date (odds ratio [OR], 0.44, 0.20-0.99). No associations were observed between total alcohol consumption 5 years before the interview date and reflux esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, or esophageal adenocarcinoma (OR, 1.26, 0.78-2.05; OR, 0.72, 0.43-1.21; and OR, 0.75, 0.46-1.22, respectively). Wine was inversely associated with reflux esophagitis (OR, 0.45, 0.27-0.75). Total alcohol consumption at age 21 years was significantly associated with reflux esophagitis (OR, 2.24, 1.35-3.74) but not with Barrett's esophagus or esophageal adenocarcinoma (OR, 1.06, 0.63-1.79 and OR, 1.27, 0.77-2.10, respectively).
Conclusions: Alcohol consumption in early adulthood may lead to the development of reflux esophagitis. More recent alcohol consumption does not appear to confer any increased risk of reflux esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, or esophageal adenocarcinoma. In fact, wine consumption may reduce the risk of these 3 esophageal disorders.