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Keywords:

  • red meat;
  • processed meat;
  • heme iron;
  • esophageal cancer;
  • cohort study

Although recent studies suggest that high intakes of meat and heme iron are risk factors for several types of cancer, studies in relation to esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) are scarce. Previous results in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) based on a relatively small number of cases suggested a positive association between processed meat and EAC. In this study, we investigate the association between intake of different types of meats and heme iron intake and EAC risk in a larger number of cases from EPIC. The study included 481,419 individuals and 137 incident cases of EAC that occurred during an average of 11 years of follow-up. Dietary intake of meat (unprocessed/processed red and white meat) was assessed by validated center-specific questionnaires. Heme iron was calculated as a type-specific percentage of the total iron content in meat. After adjusting for relevant confounders, we observed a statistically significant positive association of EAC risk with heme iron and processed meat intake, with HR: 1.67, 95% CI: 1.05–2.68 and HR: 2.27, 95% CI:1.33–3.89, respectively, for comparison of the highest vs. lowest tertile of intake. Our results suggest a potential association between higher intakes of processed meat and heme iron and risk of EAC.