Although the prevalence of Barrett's esophagus (BE) is rising no data exist for racial minorities on prevalence in the general population. Minorities have a lower prevalence than Caucasians, and yet age, smoking, abdominal obesity, and Helicobacter pylori are all risk factors. Metabolic changes induced by adipocytokines and the apparently strong association between obesity, central adiposity, and BE may lead to reconsideration of some aspects of the natural history of BE. There is lack of experimental evidence on acid sensitivity and BE, which is hyposensitive compared to esophageal reflux disease. Reactive nitrogen and oxygen species lead to impaired expression of tumor suppressor genes, which can lead to cancer development; thus, antioxidants may be protective. Gastroesophageal reflux disease may be considered an immune-mediated disease starting at the submucosal layer; the cytokine profile of the mucosal immune response may explain the different outcome of gastroesophageal reflux.
© 2011 New York Academy of Sciences.