Barrett's patients who smoke twice as likely to develop oesophageal cancer

January 30, 2012

Smoking doubles the risk of developing oesophageal cancer in people with Barrett's Oesophagus, according to scientists at Queen's University Belfast and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry.

Affecting one in every 100 people in the UK, Barrett's Oesophagus is a disorder in which the lining of the oesophagus is damaged by and is changed to a lining similar to that of the stomach.

The research, published in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, was carried out over 13 years and involved over 3000 Barrett's patients. It found that those who smoked tobacco were twice as likely to develop of the oesophagus, than those who did not.

Dr Helen Coleman from the Centre for Public Health in Queen's School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences led the study. She said: "We found that emerged as the strongest lifestyle risk factor for for patients with Barrett's Oesophagus. The risk of developing this cancer doubled for those who were smoking tobacco. One of the most interesting observations was that someone who smoked less than one pack a day was still as likely to develop cancer as those who smoked many more."

The study was the first of its kind worldwide in terms of size by taking a sample of over 3000 patients. Researchers were able to get information about smoking at the time a person was first diagnosed with Barrett's Oesophagus to see how this influenced cancer risk years later. This is important for reducing bias known to be associated with asking patients about their smoking habits in the past.

Although these findings need to be confirmed in future studies, the study's researchers suggest that tobacco smoking should be discouraged and smoking-cessation strategies considered in Barrett's Oesophagus patients in order to reduce future .

Explore further: 'Sponge on a string' trial launched to try and prevent deadly oesophageal cancer

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not rated yet Jan 31, 2012
One could search for (and find) statistical associations between This and That for several lifetimes, but this would shed little, if any, enlightenment on the causes of disease,
especially when the chi-squared statistics of rare events are ignored by using 'ratio comparisons' and such.
The causes themselves must be found if the diseases are ever to be cured.

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