Esophageal Cancer Risk Jumps with Alcohol Plus Tobacco

Rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) nearly double for those who use tobacco and consume alcohol, compared to individuals who only smoke or drink. The results of this study, reported online in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, are the first to examine the interaction between tobacco and alcohol in the risk of ESCC; each has separately been established as a risk factor.

Lead author Anoop Prabhu, MD, from the University of Michigan Medical School and colleagues performed a systematic review of existing population-based case-control or cohort studies on tobacco and alcohol together as factors that increase the risk of ESCC. While using tobacco or alcohol was associated with a 20–30% increased risk of developing ESCC compared to those who refrain, using both was linked to a threefold risk for ESCC (summary-adjusted OR, 3.28; 95% CI 2.11, 508). The summary synergy factor for ever-use of both tobacco and alcohol was 1.85 (95% CI 1.45, 2.28)

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The authors note that in order to reduce rates of esophageal cancer, it is important for physicians to focus efforts on this population that uses both alcohol and tobacco.

For more information visit the American Journal of Gastroenterology website.

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