The impact of a healthy lifestyle on the risk of esophageal and gastric cancer subtypes

Eur J Epidemiol. 2022 Sep;37(9):931-945. doi: 10.1007/s10654-022-00899-w. Epub 2022 Aug 19.


Few prospective studies have been conducted on a combined healthy lifestyle and risk of esophageal and gastric cancer, and even less on subtypes: esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA), and gastric non-cardia adenocarcinoma (GNCA). The relationship of a healthy lifestyle score (HLS) with risk of these cancers was investigated in the Netherlands Cohort Study. In 1986, 120,852 men and women aged 55-69 years provided information on dietary and lifestyle habits. The HLS was derived from information on smoking, body mass index, physical activity, Mediterranean diet adherence, and alcohol intake. After 20.3 years of follow-up, multivariable case-cohort analyses were based on 333 incident esophageal and 777 gastric cancer cases, and 3720 subcohort members with complete data on lifestyles and confounders. The impact of changing to healthy lifestyles was estimated with the rate advancement period (RAP). The HLS was significantly inversely associated with risk of esophageal and gastric cancer, and subtypes (except EAC), in a linear fashion. The observed HR decrease per 1-point increase in HLS was 31% for esophageal, and 19% for gastric cancer, 49% for ESCC, 23% for GCA, and 18% for GNCA. The RAP per 1-point increase in HLS ranged from - 11.75 years for ESCC to - 2.85 years for GNCA. Also after excluding smoking, inverse associations between the HLS and esophageal and gastric cancer risk were still apparent. These results suggest that adhering to a combination of healthy modifiable lifestyle factors may substantially reduce the risk of esophageal and gastric cancer.

Keywords: Cohort study; Esophageal cancer; Gastric cancer; Healthy lifestyle.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma*
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma*
  • Female
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / prevention & control

Supplementary concepts

  • Adenocarcinoma Of Esophagus