-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- People with the condition
called Barrett's esophagus who are smokers may have double the risk
of developing esophageal cancer, a new study warns.
These people also have twice the risk of developing advanced
precancerous cells, according to the study in the February issue of
"We found that tobacco smoking emerged as the strongest lifestyle risk factor for cancer progression. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol consumption didn't increase cancer risk in this group of patients with Barrett's esophagus," lead author Helen Coleman, of Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, said in a news release from the American Gastroenterological Association.
In people with Barrett's esophagus, damage caused by stomach
acid causes the lining of the esophagus to become similar to the
lining of the stomach, according to the U.S. MedlinePlus Medical
Encyclopedia. Most people with Barrett's esophagus do not develop
For the study, researchers looked at more than 3,000 Barrett's
esophagus patients worldwide and identified 117 cases of dysplasia
or cancers of the esophagus or stomach.
Current smoking, regardless of the number of cigarettes smoked
per day, was significantly associated with an increased risk of
esophageal cancer. Therefore, cutting down on cigarette consumption
may not be enough to reduce the risk of esophageal cancer in people
with Barrett's esophagus, the researchers suggested.
"Tobacco smoking has been long established as highly carcinogenic," Coleman said. "Barrett's esophagus patients who smoke should start a cessation program immediately."
Although the study authors pointed out that more research is
needed to confirm the findings, and the association noted in the
study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between smoking
and esophageal cancer in these patients, Coleman's team suggested
that smoking should be discouraged.
The investigators also noted that developed countries have seen
a rise in the incidence of esophageal cancer.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
esophageal cancer prevention.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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