Background: Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus has been increasing in incidence in the U.S. over the past several decades, particularly among white males. The factors driving the racial disparity in adenocarcinomas rates are not well understood.
Methods: Here we examine trends in both esophageal cancer incidence and body mass index (BMI) in a geographically defined cohort by gender and race. Age-adjusted esophageal cancer incidence rates from 1985 to 2005 were calculated from data collected by the Michigan state cancer registry. Trends were analyzed along with trends in BMI data obtained from the Behavioral Risk Factor Survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control.
Results: Overall, age adjusted incidence rates in esophageal carcinoma increased from 4.49 to 4.72 cases/100,000 persons per year in Michigan from 1985 to 2005. Among white males, the rate of adenocarcinomas increased by 0.21 cases/100,000 per year to a maximum of 6.40 cases/100,000 in 1999, after which these rates remained constant. There was a slight but non-significant increase in the rate of adenocarcinomas among African American males, for whom the average incidence rate was 8 times lower than that for white males (0.58 vs 4.72 cases/100,000 person years). While average BMI is rising in Michigan (from 26.68 in 1988 to 30.33 in 2005), average BMI was slightly higher among African Americans on average, and the rates of increase in BMI were not different between African American males and white males.
Conclusion: The disparity between African American males and white males is not explained by ecological-level trends in BMI. Further research to identify the factors responsible for this disparity, possibly including anatomic fat distribution, are required.