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Vitamin intake and risk of subtypes of esophageal cancer in Germany


Purpose. The incidence of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus is increasing in most Western industrialized nations especially in white males. The impact of vitamins on the development of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and adenocarcinoma (AC) of the esophagus has not been elucidated. The goal of this pilot-study was to analyze the influence of daily vitamin consumption on the frequency of esophageal carcinoma in Germany.

Methods. Ninety-nine patients (males) with esophageal carcinoma (52 with SCC and 47 with AC) were compared to a control group of 50 randomly selected males from the Cologne area. Using a computer program to record the data, patients and controls were questioned in detail about their dietary habits. The interaction between known risk factors and the influence of vitamins on esophageal tumor risk were analyzed using logistic regression analysis.

Results. The univariate analysis showed a significant risk reduction with increased intake of β-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folic acid for both AC and for SCC. The results of logistic regression analysis were compatible with the known risk factors for SCC (alcohol and tobacco) and for AC (obesity, tobacco, and alcohol) and showed a significant risk reduction with an intake of vitamin E greater than 13 mg/day (RR=0.13, 95% CI=0.1–0.5, P=0.0004) and vitamin C greater than 100 mg/day (RR=0.33, 95% CI=0.11–0.92, P=0.034) for patients with SCC and similar results for patients with AC.

Conclusion. Our data showed that low intake of vitamin C and E correlates significantly with the development of squamous cell carcinoma as well as adenocarcinoma of the esophagus in males. The relevance of interaction of vitamins with other dietary factors, alcohol, and tobacco are topics of current research.

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Bollschweiler, E., Wolfgarten, E., Nowroth, T. et al. Vitamin intake and risk of subtypes of esophageal cancer in Germany. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 128, 575–580 (2002).

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