To summarize the evidence about the association between red and processed meat intake and the risk of esophageal cancer, we systematically searched the PubMed and EMBASE databases up to May 2012, with a restriction to English publications, and the references of the retrieved articles. We combined the study-specific relative risks (RRs) and 95%CI, comparing the highest with the lowest categories of consumption by using a random-effects model. A total of 4 cohort studies and 23 case-control studies were included in the meta-analysis. The combined RRs (95%CI) of the cohort studies comparing the highest and lowest categories were 1.26 (1.00-1.59) for red meat and 1.25 (0.83-1.86) for processed meat. For the case-control studies, the combined RRs (95%CI) comparing the highest and lowest categories were 1.44 (1.16-1.80) for red meat and 1.36 (1.07-1.74) for processed meat. Findings from this meta-analysis suggest that a higher consumption of red meat was associated with a greater risk of esophageal cancer.
Keywords: Case-control study; Cohort study; Esophageal cancer; Meta-analysis; Processed meat; Red meat.