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1.  Opium; an emerging risk factor for gastric adenocarcinoma 
Opium use has been associated with higher risk of cancers of the esophagus, bladder, larynx, and lung; however, no previous study has examined its association with gastric cancer. There is also little information on the associations between hookah (water pipe) smoking or the chewing of tobacco products and the risk of gastric cancer. In a case-control study in Golestan Province of Iran, we enrolled 309 cases of gastric adenocarcinoma (118 noncardia, 161 cardia, and 30 mixed-location adenocarcinomas) and 613 matched controls. Detailed information on long-term use of opium, tobacco products, and other covariates were collected using structured and validated lifestyle and food frequency questionnaires. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were obtained using conditional logistic regression models. Opium use was associated with an increased risk of gastric adenocarcinoma, with an adjusted OR (95% CI) of 3.1 (1.9 – 5.1), and this increased risk was apparent for both anatomic subsites (cardia and noncardia). There was a dose-response effect, and individuals with the highest cumulative opium use had the strongest association (OR: 4.5; 95%CI: 2.3-8.5). We did not find a statistically significant association between the use of any of the tobacco products and risk of gastric adenocarcinoma, overall or by anatomic subsite. We showed, for the first time, an association between opium use and gastric adenocarcinoma. Given that opium use is a traditional practice in many parts of the world, these results are of public health significance.
doi:10.1002/ijc.28018
PMCID: PMC3644384  PMID: 23319416
Opium; Adenocarcinoma; Cardia
2.  Genetic variants in Fas signaling pathway genes and risk of gastric cancer 
Populations in north central China are at high risk for gastric cancers (GC), and altered FAS-mediated cell signaling and/or apoptosis may contribute to this risk. We examined the association of 554 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 53 Fas signaling-related genes using a pathway-based approach in 1758 GC cases (1126 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA) and 632 gastric noncardia adenocarcinomas (GNCA)), and 2111 controls from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of GC in ethnic Chinese. SNP associations with risk of overall GC, GCA and GNCA were evaluated using unconditional logistic regressions controlling for age, sex and study. Gene- and pathway-based associations were tested using the adaptive rank-truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was evaluated empirically by permutation. Significant pathway-based associations were observed for Fas signaling with risk of overall GC (P = 5.5E-04) and GCA (P = 6.3E-03), but not GNCA (P = 8.1E-02). Among examined genes in the Fas signaling pathway, MAP2K4, FAF1, MAPK8, CASP10, CASP8, CFLAR, MAP2K1, CAP8AP2, PAK2 and IKBKB were associated with risk of GC (nominal P < 0.05), and FAF1 and MAPK8 were significantly associated with risk of both GCA and GNCA (nominal P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the Fas signaling pathway is consistent with an association of altered Fas signaling and/or apoptosis with risk of GC. As one of the first attempts to investigate a pathway-level association, our results suggest that these genes and the Fas signaling pathway warrant further evaluation in relation to GC risk in other populations.
doi:10.1002/ijc.28415
PMCID: PMC3858487  PMID: 23921907
Gastric cancer; gastric cardia; gastric noncardia; Fas signaling; genetic variants; GWAS; single nucleotide polymorphisms; pathway genes
3.  Association of tooth loss and oral hygiene with risk of gastric adenocarcinoma 
Introduction
Poor oral health and tooth loss have been proposed as possible risk factors for some chronic diseases, including gastric cancer. However only a small number of studies have tested these associations.
Method
We conducted a case-control study in Golestan Province, Iran, that enrolled 309 cases diagnosed with gastric adenocarcinoma (118 noncardia, 161 cardia, and 30 mixed-locations) and 613 sex, age and neighborhood matched controls. Data on oral health were obtained through physical examination and questionnaire including tooth loss, the number of decayed, missing, and filled teeth, and frequency of tooth brushing. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were obtained using conditional logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders. Standard one degree-of-freedom linear trend test and a multiple degree of freedom global test of the effect of adding oral hygiene variables to the model were also calculated.
Results
Our results showed apparent associations between tooth loss and DMFT score with risk of gastric cancer, overall and at each anatomic subsite. However, these associations were not monotonic and were strongly confounded by age. The results also showed that subjects who brushed their teeth less than daily were at significantly higher risk for gastric cardia adenocarcinoma OR (95% CI) of 5.6 (1.6–19.3).
Discussion
We found evidence for an association between oral health and gastric cancer, but the non- monotonic association, the relatively strong effect of confounder adjustment, and inconsistent results across studies must temper the strength of any conclusions.
doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-12-0491
PMCID: PMC3644330  PMID: 23503651
Adenocarcinoma; Tooth loss; Oral health; Stomach
4.  Mortality and cancer in relation to ABO blood group phenotypes in the Golestan Cohort Study 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:8.
Background
A few studies have shown an association between blood group alleles and vascular disease, including atherosclerosis, which is thought to be due to the higher level of von Willebrand factor in these individuals and the association of blood group locus variants with plasma lipid levels. No large population-based study has explored this association with overall and cause-specific mortality.
Methods
We aimed to study the association between ABO blood groups and overall and cause-specific mortality in the Golestan Cohort Study. In this cohort, 50,045 people 40- to 70-years old were recruited between 2004 and 2008, and followed annually to capture all incident cancers and deaths due to any cause. We used Cox regression models adjusted for age, sex, smoking, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, place of residence, education and opium use.
Results
During a total of 346,708 person-years of follow-up (mean duration 6.9 years), 3,623 cohort participants died. Non-O blood groups were associated with significantly increased total mortality (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.09; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01 to 1.17) and cardiovascular disease mortality (HR = 1.15; 95% CI: 1.03 to 1.27). Blood group was not significantly associated with overall cancer mortality, but people with group A, group B, and all non-O blood groups combined had increased risk of incident gastric cancer. In a subgroup of cohort participants, we also showed higher plasma total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in those with blood group A.
Conclusions
Non-O blood groups have an increased mortality, particularly due to cardiovascular diseases, which may be due to the effect of blood group alleles on blood biochemistry or their effect on von Willebrand factor and factor VIII levels.
Please see related commentary 10.1186/s12916-014-0250-y.
doi:10.1186/s12916-014-0237-8
PMCID: PMC4295491  PMID: 25592833
Blood group; ABO; Rh; Mortality; Cancer; Cardiovascular disease
5.  Maté drinking and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in South America: pooled results from two large multi-center case-control studies 
Background
Maté tea is non-alcoholic infusion widely consumed in southern South America, and may increase risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and other cancers due to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and/or thermal injury.
Methods
We pooled two case-control studies: a 1988–2005 Uruguay study and a 1986–1992 multinational study in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, including 1,400 cases and 3,229 controls. We computed odds ratios (OR) and fitted a linear excess odds ratio (EOR) model for cumulative maté consumption in liters/day-year (LPDY).
Results
The adjusted OR for ESCC with 95% confidence interval (CI) by ever compared with never use of maté was 1.60 (1.2,2.2). ORs increased linearly with LPDY (test of non-linearity, P=0.69). The estimate of slope (EOR/LPDY) was 0.009 (0.005,0.014) and did not vary with daily intake, indicating maté intensity did not influence the strength of association. EOR/LPDY estimates for consumption at warm, hot and very hot beverage temperatures were 0.004 (−0.002,0.013), 0.007 (0.003,0.013) and 0.016 (0.009,0.027), respectively, and differed significantly (P<0.01). EOR/LPDY estimates were increased in younger (<65) individuals and never alcohol drinkers, but these evaluations were post hoc, and were homogeneous by sex.
Conclusions
ORs for ESCC increased linearly with cumulative maté consumption and were unrelated to intensity, so greater daily consumption for shorter duration or lesser daily consumption for longer duration resulted in comparable ORs. The strength of association increased with higher mate temperatures.
Impact
Increased understanding of cancer risks with maté consumption enhances the understanding of the public health consequences given its purported health benefits.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0796
PMCID: PMC3947123  PMID: 24130226
6.  The Authors Reply 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(12):1762-1763.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwt266
PMCID: PMC3858111  PMID: 24471178
7.  The association between the upper digestive tract microbiota by HOMIM and oral health in a population-based study in Linxian, China 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1110.
Background
Bacteria affect oral health, but few studies have systematically examined the role of bacterial communities in oral diseases. We examined this relationship in a large population-based Chinese cancer screening cohort.
Methods
Human Oral Microbe Identification Microarrays were used to test for the presence of 272 human oral bacterial species (97 genera) in upper digestive tract (UDT) samples collected from 659 participants. Oral health was assessed using US NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) protocols. We assessed both dental health (total teeth missing; tooth decay; and the decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT) score) and periodontal health (bleeding on probing (BoP) extent score, loss of attachment extent score, and a periodontitis summary estimate).
Results
Microbial richness, estimated by number of genera per sample, was positively correlated with BoP score (P = 0.015), but negatively correlated with tooth decay and DMFT score (P = 0.008 and 0.022 respectively). Regarding β-diversity, as estimated by the UniFrac distance matrix for pairwise differences among samples, at least one of the first three principal components of the UniFrac distance matrix was correlated with the number of missing teeth, tooth decay, DMFT, BoP, or periodontitis. Of the examined genera, Parvimonas was positively associated with BoP and periodontitis. Veillonellacease [G-1] was associated with a high DMFT score, and Filifactor and Peptostreptococcus were associated with a low DMFT score.
Conclusions
Our results suggest distinct relationships between UDT microbiota and dental and periodontal health. Poor dental health was associated with a less microbial diversity, whereas poor periodontal health was associated with more diversity and the presence of potentially pathogenic species.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1110) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1110
PMCID: PMC4223728  PMID: 25348940
Microbiota; Oral health; Dental caries; Periodontitis; Bleeding on probe; Attachment loss
8.  Systematic Review of Zinc Biomarkers and Esophageal Cancer Risk 
BACKGROUND
It is hypothesized that poor zinc nutritional status is associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer (EC), but current evidence is contradictory. Since some factors may influence zinc absorption, its status may be better evaluated thorough biomarkers. The objectives of this study were to perform a systematic review on the association of zinc biomarkers with EC in observational studies and to evaluate the efficacy of zinc supplements in preventing EC in randomized trials.
METHODS
The MEDLINE database was searched in December 2013 for studies written in English with relevant keywords. Articles which met inclusion criteria were included in this study.
RESULTS
Eleven observational studies that measured zinc biomarkers and eight randomized trials which evaluated supplements containing zinc, met our inclusion criteria. The majority of studies suggested that higher zinc status was inversely associated with EC risk.
CONCLUSION
Most of the evidence for this hypothesis comes from case-control studies, which may introduce bias. Cohort studies are needed to establish whether poor zinc status is associated with increased risk for EC. Findings from trials are inconclusive as there is no data from single agent trials. However, the evidence is not still strong enough to conclude a protective role of zinc in EC.
PMCID: PMC4208925  PMID: 25349680
Zinc; Esophageal cancer; Minerals; Systematic review
9.  Reproductive factors and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in northern Iran- A case-control study in a high risk area and literature review 
Background
Several epidemiologic studies have suggested an inverse association between female reproductive factors and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), but the evidence is not conclusive. We investigated the association of the number of pregnancies, live-births, and miscarriages/stillbirths in women and the association of the number of children in both sexes with ESCC risk in Golestan Province, a high-risk area in Iran.
Methods
Data from 297 histopathologically confirmed ESCC cases (149 women) and 568 controls (290 women) individually matched to cases for age, sex, and neighborhood of residence were included in this analysis. Conditional logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results
The average numbers of live-births and miscarriages/stillbirths among controls were 8.2 and 0.8, respectively. Women with 6 or more live-births were at approximately one-third the risk of ESCC as those with 0–3 live-births; the OR (95% CI) for having 6–7 live-births was 0.33 (0.12–0.92). In contrast, the number of miscarriages/stillbirths was associated with an increase in ESCC risk. The OR (95% CI) for ≥ 3 versus no miscarriages/stillbirths was 4.43 (2.11–9.33). The number of children in women was suggestive an inverse association with ESCC, but this association was not statistically significant; in men, no association was seen.
Conclusion
The findings of this study support a protective influence of female hormonal factors on ESCC risk. However, further epidemiological and mechanistic studies are needed to prove a protective association.
doi:10.1097/CEJ.0b013e32835c7f87
PMCID: PMC3731403  PMID: 23238586
case-control study; esophageal cancer; miscarriage; parity; reproductive; squamous cell carcinoma
10.  Index-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Esophageal and Gastric Cancer in a Large Cohort Study 
Background & Aims
Diet could affect risk for esophageal and gastric cancers, but associations have been inconsistent. The diet is complex, so studies of dietary patterns, rather than studies of individual foods, might be more likely to identify cancer risk factors. There is limited research on index-based dietary patterns and esophageal and gastric cancers. We prospectively evaluated associations between the Healthy Eating Index-2005 (HEI-2005) and alternate Mediterranean Diet (aMED) scores and risk of esophageal and gastric cancers.
Methods
We analyzed data from 494,968 participants in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-AARP Diet and Health study, in which AARP members (51–70 y old) completed a self-administered baseline food frequency questionnaire between 1995 and 1996. Their answers were used to estimate scores for each index.
Results
During the follow-up period (1995–2006), participants developed 215 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs), 633 esophageal adenocarcinomas (EACs), 453 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas, and 501 gastric non-cardia adenocarcinomas. Higher scores from the HEI-2005 were associated with a reduced risk of ESCC (comparing the highest quintile with the lowest: hazard ratio [HR], 0.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.31–0.86; Ptrend=.001) and EAC (HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.57–0.98; Ptrend=.01). We observed an inverse association between ESCC, but not EAC, and higher aMED score (meaning a higher-quality diet). HEI-2005 and aMED scores were not significantly associated with gastric cardia or noncardia adenocarcinomas.
Conclusions
Using data collected from 1995 through 2006 from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, HEI-2005 and aMED scores were inversely associated with risk for esophageal cancers—particularly ESCC. Adherence to dietary recommendations might help prevent esophageal cancers.
doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2013.03.023
PMCID: PMC3758458  PMID: 23591281
food habits; esophageal neoplasms; stomach neoplasms
11.  Prospective Study of Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure and Mortality Risk in the United States 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(4):521-533.
Geographic variations in mortality rate in the United States could be due to several hypothesized factors, one of which is exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Limited evidence from previous prospective studies has been inconclusive. The association between ambient residential UVR exposure and total and cause-specific mortality risks in a regionally diverse cohort (346,615 white, non-Hispanic subjects, 50–71 years of age, in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)–AARP Diet and Health Study) was assessed, with accounting for individual-level confounders. UVR exposure (averaged for 1978–1993 and 1996–2005) from NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer was linked to the US Census Bureau 2000 census tract of participants' baseline residence. Multivariate-adjusted Cox proportional-hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Over 12 years, UVR exposure was associated with total deaths (n = 41,425; hazard ratio for highest vs. lowest quartiles (HRQ4 vs. Q1) = 1.06, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.03, 1.09; Ptrend < 0.001) and with deaths (all Ptrend < 0.05) due to cancer (HRQ4 vs. Q1 = 1.06, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.11), cardiovascular disease (HRQ4 vs. Q1 = 1.06, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.12), respiratory disease (HRQ4 vs. Q1 = 1.37, 95% CI: 1.21, 1.55), and stroke (HRQ4 vs. Q1 = 1.16, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.33) but not with deaths due to injury, diabetes, or infectious disease. These results suggest that UVR exposure might not be beneficial for longevity.
doi:10.1093/aje/kws589
PMCID: PMC3736750  PMID: 23863757
epidemiology; mortality; prospective; sunlight; ultraviolet radiation; vitamin D
13.  Genetic variants in DNA repair pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and gastric adenocarcinoma in a Chinese population 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(7):1536-1542.
The DNA repair pathways help to maintain genomic integrity and therefore genetic variation in the pathways could affect the propensity to develop cancer. Selected germline single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the pathways have been associated with esophageal cancer and gastric cancer (GC) but few studies have comprehensively examined the pathway genes. We aimed to investigate associations between DNA repair pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and GC, using data from a genome-wide association study in a Han Chinese population where ESCC and GC are the predominant cancers. In sum, 1942 ESCC cases, 1758 GC cases and 2111 controls from the Shanxi Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Genetics Project (discovery set) and the Linxian Nutrition Intervention Trials (replication set) were genotyped for 1675 SNPs in 170 DNA repair-related genes. Logistic regression models were applied to evaluate SNP-level associations. Gene- and pathway-level associations were determined using the resampling-based adaptive rank-truncated product approach. The DNA repair pathways overall were significantly associated with risk of ESCC (P = 6.37 × 10− 4), but not with GC (P = 0.20). The most significant gene in ESCC was CHEK2 (P = 2.00 × 10− 6) and in GC was CLK2 (P = 3.02 × 10− 4). We observed several other genes significantly associated with either ESCC (SMUG1, TDG, TP53, GTF2H3, FEN1, POLQ, HEL308, RAD54B, MPG, FANCE and BRCA1) or GC risk (MRE11A, RAD54L and POLE) (P < 0.05). We provide evidence for an association between specific genes in the DNA repair pathways and the risk of ESCC and GC. Further studies are warranted to validate these associations and to investigate underlying mechanisms.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgt094
PMCID: PMC3697889  PMID: 23504502
14.  Variation in PAH-related DNA adduct levels among non-smokers: the role of multiple genetic polymorphisms and nucleotide excision repair phenotype 
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) likely play a role in many cancers even in never-smokers. We tried to find a model to explain the relationship between variation in PAH-related DNA adduct levels among people with similar exposures, multiple genetic polymorphisms in genes related to metabolic and repair pathways, and nucleotide excision repair (NER) capacity. In 111 randomly-selected female never-smokers from the Golestan Cohort Study in Iran, we evaluated 21 SNPs in 14 genes related to xenobiotic metabolism and 12 SNPs in 8 DNA repair genes. NER capacity was evaluated by a modified comet assay, and aromatic DNA adduct levels were measured in blood by 32P-postlabelling. Multivariable regression models were compared by Akaike’s information criterion (AIC). Aromatic DNA adduct levels ranged between 1.7 and 18.6 per 108 nucleotides (mean: 5.8±3.1). DNA adduct level was significantly lower in homozygotes for NAT2 slow alleles and ERCC5 non risk-allele genotype, and was higher in the MPO homozygote risk-allele genotype. The sum of risk alleles in these genes significantly correlated with the log-adduct level (r=0.4, p<0.001). Compared with the environmental model, adding phase I SNPs and NER capacity provided the best fit, and could explain 17% more of the variation in adduct levels. NER capacity was affected by polymorphisms in the MTHFR and ERCC1 genes. Female non-smokers in this population had PAH-related DNA adduct levels 3-4 times higher than smokers and occupationally-exposed groups in previous studies, with large inter-individual variation which could best be explained by a combination of phase I genes and NER capacity.
doi:10.1002/ijc.27953
PMCID: PMC3597757  PMID: 23175176
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; DNA adducts; nucleotide excision repair; polymorphism
15.  Genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(5):1062-1068.
In China, esophageal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death where essentially all cases are histologically esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), in contrast to esophageal adenocarcinoma in the West. Globally, ESCC is 2.4 times more common among men than women and recently it has been suggested that sex hormones may be associated with the risk of ESCC. We examined the association between genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic genes and ESCC risk in a population from north central China with high-incidence rates. A total of 1026 ESCC cases and 1452 controls were genotyped for 797 unique tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 51 sex hormone metabolic genes. SNP-, gene- and pathway-based associations with ESCC risk were evaluated using unconditional logistic regression adjusted for age, sex and geographical location and the adaptive rank truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was determined through use of permutation for pathway- and gene-based associations. No associations were observed for the overall sex hormone metabolic pathway (P = 0.14) or subpathways (androgen synthesis: P = 0.30, estrogen synthesis: P = 0.15 and estrogen removal: P = 0.19) with risk of ESCC. However, six individual genes (including SULT2B1, CYP1B1, CYP3A7, CYP3A5, SHBG and CYP11A1) were significantly associated with ESCC risk (P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the sex hormone metabolic pathway is consistent with a potential association with risk of ESCC. These positive findings warrant further evaluation in relation to ESCC risk and replication in other populations.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgt030
PMCID: PMC3643422  PMID: 23358850
16.  Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and overall and Cause-specific Mortality: A Prospective Study of 50000 Individuals 
BACKGROUND
Only a few studies in Western countries have investigated the association between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and mortality at the general population level and they have shown mixed results. This study investigated the association between GERD symptoms and overall and cause-specific mortality in a large prospective population-based study in Golestan Province, Iran.
METHODS
Baseline data on frequency, onset time, and patient-perceived severity of GERD symptoms were available for 50001 participants in the Golestan Cohort Study (GCS). We identified 3107 deaths (including 1146 circulatory and 470 cancer-related) with an average follow-up of 6.4 years and calculated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) adjusted for multiple potential confounders.
RESULTS
Severe daily symptoms (defined as symptoms interfering with daily work or causing nighttime awakenings on a daily bases, reported by 4.3% of participants) were associated with cancer mortality (HR 1.48, 95% CI: 1.04-2.05). This increase was too small to noticeably affect overall mortality. Mortality was not associated with onset time or frequency of GERD and was not increased with mild to moderate symptoms.
CONCLUSION
We have observed an association with GERD and increased cancer mortality in a small group of individuals that had severe symptoms. Most patients with mild to moderate GERD can be re-assured that their symptoms are not associated with increased mortality.
PMCID: PMC4034667  PMID: 24872865
Cardiovascular disease; Esophageal cancer; Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Mortality
17.  Global Changes in Gene Expression of Barrett's Esophagus Compared to Normal Squamous Esophagus and Gastric Cardia Tissues 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93219.
Background
Barrett's esophagus (BE) is a metaplastic precursor lesion of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA), the most rapidly increasing cancer in western societies. While the prevalence of BE is increasing, the vast majority of EA occurs in patients with undiagnosed BE. Thus, we sought to identify genes that are altered in BE compared to the normal mucosa of the esophagus, and which may be potential biomarkers for the development or diagnosis of BE.
Design
We performed gene expression analysis using HG-U133A Affymetrix chips on fresh frozen tissue samples of Barrett's metaplasia and matched normal mucosa from squamous esophagus (NE) and gastric cardia (NC) in 40 BE patients.
Results
Using a cut off of 2-fold and P<1.12E-06 (0.05 with Bonferroni correction), we identified 1324 differentially-expressed genes comparing BE vs NE and 649 differentially-expressed genes comparing BE vs NC. Except for individual genes such as the SOXs and PROM1 that were dysregulated only in BE vs NE, we found a subset of genes (n = 205) whose expression was significantly altered in both BE vs NE and BE vs NC. These genes were overrepresented in different pathways, including TGF-β and Notch.
Conclusion
Our findings provide additional data on the global transcriptome in BE tissues compared to matched NE and NC tissues which should promote further understanding of the functions and regulatory mechanisms of genes involved in BE development, as well as insight into novel genes that may be useful as potential biomarkers for the diagnosis of BE in the future.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093219
PMCID: PMC3979678  PMID: 24714516
18.  A U-shaped relationship between haematocrit and mortality in a large prospective cohort study 
Background Only a limited number of studies have investigated the correlation between haematocrit (HCT) and mortality in the general population, and few of those studies have had data on a wide range of low and high levels of HCT. We investigated the association between baseline HCT and mortality in a prospective cohort study of 49 983 adult subjects in Iran with a broad spectrum of HCT values.
Methods Data on socio-demographic and life-style factors, past medical history, and levels of HCT were collected at enrollment. During a mean follow-up of 5 years (follow-up success rate ∼99%), 2262 deaths were reported. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals.
Results There was a U-shaped relationship between categories of HCT and mortality in both sexes: both low and high levels of HCT were associated with increased overall mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease. The U-shaped relationship persisted after several sensitivity analyses were done, including analyses restricted to non-smokers and non-users of opium; analyses excluding deaths from accidents and other external causes as well as deaths of persons with self-reported ischemic heart disease at the baseline interview for the study; and analyses excluding the first 2 years of follow-up. Self-reported past medical history and lack of data about lipids and other cellular blood components were the major limitations of the study.
Conclusions Low and high levels of HCT are associated with increased mortality in the general population. The findings in the present study can be of particular importance for low- and middle-income countries in which a substantial proportion of the population lives with suboptimal levels of HCT.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyt013
PMCID: PMC3619954  PMID: 23569195
Anaemia; cancer; cardiovascular disease; erythrocytosis; haematocrit; mortality
19.  Squamous dysplasia – the precursor lesion for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) accounts for 80% of all esophageal cancers worldwide, and esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD) is the only histopathology that predicts the development of ESCC. The prevalence of ESD parallels rates of invasive ESCC, and is typically found in 25% or more of adults above the age of 35 years in populations in north central China, where risk for ESCC is among the highest in the world. Results of chemoprevention and early detection studies to prevent progression of ESD suggest that these approaches, coupled with emerging endoscopic therapies, offer promise for the prevention of esophageal cancer mortality in high-risk populations. Future research on ESD and ESCC should focus on finding additional modifiable risk factors and on identifying biomarkers to incorporate into early detection strategies.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1347
PMCID: PMC3681095  PMID: 23549398
20.  Determinants of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Including Hookah Smoking and Opium Use– A Cross-Sectional Analysis of 50,000 Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89256.
Background
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common cause of discomfort and morbidity worldwide. However, information on determinants of GERD from large-scale studies in low- to medium-income countries is limited. We investigated the factors associated with different measures of GERD symptoms, including frequency, patient-perceived severity, and onset time.
Methods
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the baseline data from a population-based cohort study of ∼50,000 individuals in in Golestan Province, Iran. GERD symptoms in this study included regurgitation and/or heartburn.
Results
Approximately 20% of participants reported at least weekly symptoms. Daily symptoms were less commonly reported by men, those of Turkmen ethnicity, and nass chewers. On the other hand, age, body mass index, alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking, opium use, lower socioeconomic status, and lower physical activity were associated with daily symptoms. Most of these factors showed similar associations with severe symptoms. Women with higher BMI and waist to hip ratio were more likely to report frequent and severe GERD symptoms. Hookah smoking (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.02–1.75) and opium use (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.55–1.87) were associated with severe symptoms, whereas nass chewing had an inverse association (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.76–0.99). After exclusion of cigarette smokers, hookah smoking was still positively associated and nass chewing was inversely associated with GERD symptoms (all frequencies combined).
Conclusion
GERD is common in this population. The associations of hookah and opium use and inverse association of nass use with GERD symptoms are reported for the first time. Further studies are required to investigate the nature of these associations. Other determinants of GERD were mostly comparable to those reported elsewhere.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089256
PMCID: PMC3931722  PMID: 24586635
21.  A Prospective Study of Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Use and the Risk of Upper Gastrointestinal Cancers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88774.
We examined the association of use of multivitamins or single vitamin/mineral supplements with risk of four upper gastrointestinal cancers in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study cohort with 11 years of follow-up. After exclusions, 490,593 persons were included in our analytic cohort and 1780 upper gastrointestinal cancers were accrued. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using Cox models with adjustment for potential confounders. We observed no significant associations between multivitamin use and risk for the four cancer outcomes in crude or adjusted models. Among individual vitamin or mineral supplements, use of iron supplements was associated with significantly lower risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma (HR = 0.68, 95% CI = 0.49 to 0.94) and a significantly increased risk of gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma (HR = 1.59, 95% CI = 1.24 to 2.05). For gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma, we saw associations with zinc use (HR = 1.28, 95% CI = 1.01 to 1.62) and vitamin C use (HR = 0.79 95% CI = 0.65 to 0.96). Calcium use, some of which was reported as antacids and used to treat reflux disease, was associated with higher risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma (HR = 1.27, 95% CI = 1.06 to 1.52) and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (HR = 1.27, 95% CI = 1.03 to 1.56) cancers. We saw no evidence that multivitamin use was associated with reduced risk of four highly fatal upper gastrointestinal cancers, but there were some differences in risk with reported use of individual supplements.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088774
PMCID: PMC3928299  PMID: 24558423
22.  Smoking water-pipe, chewing nass, and prevalence of heart disease – A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Golestan Cohort Study, Iran 
Heart (British Cardiac Society)  2012;99(4):272-278.
Objective
Water-pipe and smokeless tobacco use have been associated with several adverse health outcomes. However, little information is available on the association between water-pipe use and heart disease (HD). Therefore, we investigated the association of smoking water-pipe and chewing nass (a mixture of tobacco, lime, and ash) with prevalent HD.
Design
Cross-sectional study.
Setting
Baseline data (collected in 2004–2008) from a prospective population-based study in Golestan Province, Iran.
Participants
50,045 residents of Golestan (40–75 years old; 42.4% male).
Main outcome measures
ORs and 95% CIs from multivariate logistic regression models for the association of water-pipe and nass use with HD prevalence.
Results
A total of 3051 (6.1%) participants reported a history of HD, and 525 (1.1%) and 3726 (7.5%) reported ever water-pipe or nass use, respectively. Heavy water-pipe smoking was significantly associated with HD prevalence (highest level of cumulative use versus never use, OR= 3.75; 95% CI 1.52 – 9.22; P for trend= 0.04). This association persisted when using different cutoff points, when restricting HD to those taking nitrate compound medications, and among never cigarette smokers. There was no significant association between nass use and HD prevalence (highest category of use versus never use, OR= 0.91; 95% CI 0.69 – 1.20).
Conclusions
Our study suggests a significant association between HD and heavy water-pipe smoking. Although the existing evidence suggesting similar biological consequences of water-pipe and cigarette smoking make this association plausible, results of our study were based on a modest number of water-pipe users and need to be replicated in further studies.
doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2012-302861
PMCID: PMC3671096  PMID: 23257174
hookah; ischemic heart disease; nass; tobacco; water-pipe
23.  Alcohol and acetaldehyde in African fermented milk mursik – A possible etiological factor for high incidence of esophageal cancer in western Kenya 
Background
Esophageal cancer is unusually frequent in western Kenya, despite the low prevalence of classical risk factors such as heavy drinking and tobacco smoking. Among Kenyans consumption of fermented milk is an old tradition. Our hypothesis is that alcohol and acetaldehyde are produced during the fermentation process and that their carcinogenic potential contributes to the high incidence of esophageal cancer.
Methods
Eight samples of mursik milk starter cultures were collected from different Kalenjin families in the Rift Valley province, Western Kenya. A protocol provided by the families was used for milk fermentation. Ethanol and acetaldehyde levels were measured by gas chromatography. The microbial flora in starter cultures was identified by 16S and 18S sequencing.
Results
7/8 starter cultures produced mutagenic (>100 µM) levels of acetaldehyde and 4/8 starter cultures produced >1000 µM of acetaldehyde. The highest alcohol levels (mean 79.4 mM) were detected in the four fermented milks with highest acetaldehyde production. The mean number of microbial species in the starter cultures was 5 (range 2–8). Yeasts were identified in all starter cultures (mean 1.5 species/milk) but their proportion of the total microbial count varied markedly (mean 35%, range 7–90%). A combination of yeast and lactobacilli, especially Candida krusei with Lactobacillus kefiriwith the exclusion of other species, seemed to correlate with higher acetaldehyde and ethanol levels.
Conclusions
Significant levels of ethanol and acetaldehyde were produced during mursik fermentation.
Impact
When ingested several times daily the repeated exposure to carcinogenic levels of acetaldehyde may contribute to esophageal carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0908
PMCID: PMC3538938  PMID: 23155139
Candida; carcinogenesis; ethanol; fermented milk; lactobacilli
24.  Prevalence, awareness and risk factors of hypertension in a large cohort of Iranian adult population 
Journal of hypertension  2013;31(7):1364-1371.
Background
There is considerable variation in hypertension prevalence and awareness, and their correlates, across different geographic locations and ethnic groups. We performed this cross-sectional analysis on data from the Golestan Cohort Study (GCS).
Methods
Enrollment in this study occurred in 2004–2008, and included 50,045 healthy subjects from Golestan Province in northeastern Iran. Hypertension was defined as a systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥140, a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥90, a prior diagnosis of hypertension, or the use of antihypertensive drugs. Potential correlates of hypertension and its awareness were analyzed by logistic regression adjusted for sex, age, BMI, place of residence, literacy, ethnicity, physical activity, smoking, black and green tea consumption and wealth score.
Results
Of the total cohort participants, 21,350 (42.7%) were hypertensive. Age-standardized prevalence of hypertension, using the 2001 WHO standard world population, was 41.8% (95%CI: 38.3%–45.2%). Hypertension was directly associated with female sex, increased BMI, Turkmen ethnicity, and lack of physical activity, and inversely associated with drinking black tea and wealth score. Among hypertensive subjects, 46.2% were aware of their disease, 17.6% were receiving antihypertensive medication, and 32.1% of the treated subjects had controlled hypertension. Hypertension awareness was greater among women, the elderly, overweight and obese subjects, and those with a higher wealth score.
Conclusions
Hypertension is highly prevalent in rural Iran, many of the affected individuals are unaware of their disease, and the rate of control by antihypertensive medications is low. Increasing hypertension awareness and access to health services, especially among less privileged residents are recommended.
doi:10.1097/HJH.0b013e3283613053
PMCID: PMC3766446  PMID: 23673348
hypertension; awareness; obesity; smoking; socioeconomic status
25.  Menstrual and reproductive factors and gastric cancer risk in a large prospective study of women 
Gut  2007;56(12):1671-1677.
Background
Gastric cancer incidence rates are consistently lower in women than men in both high and low‐risk regions worldwide. Sex hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, may protect women against gastric cancer.
Objective
To investigate the association of menstrual and reproductive factors and gastric cancer risk.
Methods
These associations were prospectively investigated in 73 442 Shanghai women. After 419 260 person‐years of follow‐up, 154 women were diagnosed with gastric cancer. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, body mass index, education, income, and cigarette use.
Results
No associations were observed between gastric cancer risk and age of menarche, number of children, breast feeding, or oral contraceptive use. In contrast, associations were observed with age of menopause (HR 0.80 per five‐year increase in menopausal age, 95% CI 0.66–0.97), years of fertility (participants with less than 30 years of fertility were at increased risk compared with those with 30–36 years of fertility, HR 1.90, 95% CI 1.25–2.90), years since menopause (HR 1.26 per five years, 95% CI 1.03–1.53), and intrauterine device use (HR for users 1.61, 95% CI 1.08–2.39).
Conclusions
These results support the hypothesis that female hormones play a protective role in gastric cancer risk.
doi:10.1136/gut.2007.129411
PMCID: PMC2095686  PMID: 17627962
stomach neoplasms; cohort studies; prospective studies; hormones

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