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Kaiser Permanente Study Finds Drinking Wine May Lower Risk of Barrett's Esophagus, Precursor to Nation's Fastest Growing Cancer, Esophageal Cancer
Date:3/1/2009

OAKLAND, Calif., March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Drinking one glass of wine a day may lower the risk of Barrett's Esophagus by 56 percent, according to a new study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in the March issue of Gastroenterology. Barrett's Esophagus is a precursor to esophageal cancer, the nation's fastest growing cancer with an incidence rate that's jumped 500 percent in the last 30 years.

Barrett's Esophagus affects 5 percent of the population and occurs when heartburn or acid reflux permanently damages the esophageal lining. People with Barrett's Esophagus have a 30- to 40-fold higher risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (a type of esophageal cancer) because the Barrett's Esophagus cells can grow into cancer cells.

Because there are no symptoms or warning signs of Barrett's Esophagus, people discover they have Barrett's Esophagus when an endoscopy for anemia, heartburn or a bleeding ulcer reveals esophageal cells that were damaged, then changed form during the healing process. Currently nothing can be done to treat Barrett's Esophagus; it can only be monitored.

This is the first and largest population-based study to examine the connection between alcohol consumption and risk of Barrett's Esophagus. Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, the Kaiser Permanente study looked at 953 men and women in Northern California between 2002 and 2005 and found that people who drank one or more glasses of red or white wine a day had less than half the risk (or 56 percent reduced risk) of Barrett's Esophagus. There was no reduction of Barrett's Esophagus risk among people who drank beer or liquor.

"The rate of esophageal adenocarcinoma in this country is skyrocketing yet very little is known about its precursor, Barrett's Esophagus. We are trying to figure out how to prevent changes that may lead to esophageal cancer," said Douglas A. Corley, MD, a Kaiser Perm
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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