Obesity Linked to Esophageal Cancer

Obesity May Make Cancer of the Esophagus More Likely

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 10, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 10, 2007 -- Obesity's health risks may include a risk of developing esophageal cancer.

That's according to a new Australian study published in tomorrow's advance online edition of the journal Gut.

The study included nearly 800 patients with esophageal cancer and 1,580 adults without esophageal cancer.

The researchers included David Whiteman, MBBS, PhD, of Australia's Brisbane Hospital.

They tracked BMI (body mass index, which compares height to weight) among people with and without esophageal cancer.

Compared with people with a normal BMI, esophageal cancer was up to six times as common among very obese people (BMI of at least 40) and about twice as likely among obese people (BMI of 30 or more).

The people who were most likely to have esophageal cancer were severely obese people with a history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

But obesity was linked to esophageal cancer even in people who had never had GERD.

Obesity and esophageal cancer were more strongly related in men than women and in people younger than 50 than in older adults.

The study doesn't prove that obesity directly causes esophageal cancer. But that possibility deserves further study, according to Whiteman and colleagues.

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SOURCES: Whiteman, D. Gut, Oct. 11, 2007; advance online edition. News release, BMJ Specialist Journals.

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