FRIDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) — Patients with Barrett’s esophagus who currently smoke have twice the risk of developing esophageal cancer compared with never smokers, according to a study published in the February issue of Gastroenterology.

Helen G. Coleman, Ph.D., from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, and colleagues examined the association between lifestyle and progression of Barrett’s esophagus to neoplasia in 3,167 patients diagnosed with specialized intestinal metaplasia between 1993 and 2005.

By the end of 2008, the researchers found that 117 patients had developed esophageal high-grade dysplasia or adenocarcinomas of the esophagus or gastric cardia. The risk of progression was significantly higher in patients who currently smoked tobacco (hazard ratio, 2.03), regardless of the number of cigarettes smoked per day, compared with those who had never smoked. In contrast, alcohol consumption and body size were not associated with progression.

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“Smoking tobacco increases the risk of progression to cancer or high-grade dysplasia two-fold among patients with Barrett’s esophagus, compared with patients with Barrett’s esophagus that have never smoked,” Coleman and colleagues conclude. “Smoking cessation strategies should be considered for patients with Barrett’s esophagus.”

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