, Volume 59, Issue 7, pp 1552-1559,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 06 Feb 2014

Body Mass Index, Smoking, and Alcohol and Risks of Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma: A UK Prospective Cohort Study



The timing of the risk factors cigarette smoking, alcohol and obesity in the development of Barrett’s esophagus (BE) and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is unclear.


To investigate these exposures in the aetiology of BE and EAC in the same population.


The cohort included 24,068 men and women, aged 39–79 years, recruited between 1993 and 1997 into the prospective EPIC-Norfolk Study who provided information on anthropometry, smoking and alcohol intake. The cohort was monitored until December 2008 and incident cases identified.


One hundred and four participants were diagnosed with BE and 66 with EAC. A body mass index (BMI) above 23 kg/m2 was associated with a greater risk of BE [BMI ≥23 vs. 18.5 to <23, hazard ratio (HR) 3.73, 95 % CI 1.37–10.16], and within a normal BMI, the risk was greater in the higher category (HR 3.76, 95 % CI 1.30–10.85, BMI 23–25 vs. 18.5 to >23 kg/m2). Neither smoking nor alcohol intake were associated with risk for BE. For EAC, all BMI categories were associated with risk, although statistically significant for only the highest (BMI >35 vs. BMI 18.5 to <23, HR 4.95, 95 % CI 1.11–22.17). The risk was greater in the higher category of a normal BMI (HR 2.73, 95 % CI 0.93–8.00, p = 0.07, BMI 23–25 vs. 18.5 to >23 kg/m2). There was an inverse association with ≥7 units alcohol/week (HR 0.51, 95 % CI 0.29–0.88) and with wine (HR 0.49, 95 % CI 0.23–1.04, p = 0.06, drinkers vs. non-drinkers).


Obesity may be involved early in carcinogenesis and the association with EAC and wine should be explored. The data have implications for aetiological investigations and prevention strategies.