In people with Barrett's esophagus, smoking doubles the risk of developing esophageal cancer, say scientists. 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 stomach acid 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 cancer 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 tobacco smoking emerged as the strongest lifestyle risk factor for cancer progression 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.