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1.  Ecologic study of serum selenium and upper gastrointestinal cancers in Iran 
AIM: Both observational and experimental studies have shown that higher selenium status reduces the risk of upper gastrointestinal cancers in selenium deficient populations. Recent cancer registry data have shown very different rates of esophageal cancer (EC) and gastric cancer (GC) in four Provinces of Iran, namely Ardabil, Mazandaran, Golestan, and Kerman. The aim of this study was to have a preliminary assessment of the hypothesis that high rates of EC in Golestan and high rates of GC in Ardabil may be partly attributable to selenium deficiency.
METHODS: We measured serum selenium in 300 healthy adults from Ardabil (n = 100), Mazandaran (n = 50), Golestan (n = 100), and Kerman (n = 50), using inductively coupled plasma, with dynamic reaction cell, mass spectrometry (ICP-DRC-MS) at the US Centers for Disease Control (Atlanta, Georgia).
RESULTS: The median serum selenium concentrations were very different in the four Provinces. The medians (IQR) for selenium in Ardabil, Mazandarn, Golestan, and Kerman were 82 (75-94), 123 (111-132), 155 (141-173), and 119 (110-128) μg/L, respectively (P < 0.001). The results of linear regression showed that the Province variable, by itself, explained 76% of the variance in log selenium (r2 = 0.76). The proportion of the populations with a serum selenium more than 90 μg/L (the concentration at which serum selenoproteins are saturated) was 100% in Golestan, Kerman, and Mazandaran but only 29% in Ardabil.
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that selenium deficiency is not a major contributor to the high incidence of EC seen in northeastern Iran, but it may play a role in the high incidence of GC in Ardabil Province.
PMCID: PMC4572158  PMID: 15300901
2.  PAH exposure in esophageal tissue and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in northeastern Iran 
Gut  2010;59(9):1178-1183.
To evaluate the association of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure in esophageal epithelial tissue and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) case status in an ESCC case-control study in a high-risk population in northeastern Iran.
Immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays (TMAs) of non-tumoral esophageal biopsies from ESCC cases and control subjects. Immunohistochemistry was performed using monoclonal antibodies 8E11 and 5D11, raised against benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) diol epoxide (BPDE)-I-modified guanosine and BPDE-I-modified DNA, respectively. Staining intensity was quantified by image analysis, and the average staining in three replicates was calculated.
Rural region in northeastern Iran.
Cases were patients with biopsy-proven ESCC. Controls were GI clinic patients with no endoscopic or biopsy evidence of ESCC.
Main outcome measure
Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for the association between antibody staining intensity and ESCC case status.
Cultured ESCC cells exposed to B[a]P in vitro showed dose-dependent staining with 8E11, but not with 5D11. With 8E11, sufficient epithelial tissue was available in the TMA cores to analyze 91 cases and 103 controls. Compared to the lowest quintile of 8E11 staining in the controls, adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 2.42, 5.77, 11.3, and 26.6 (5.21–135), respectively (P for trend < 0.001). With 5D11, 89 cases and 101 controls were analyzed. No association between staining and case status was observed (ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 1.26, 0.88, 1.06, and 1.63 (0.63–4.21), P for trend = 0.40).
Dramatically higher levels of 8E11 staining were observed in non-tumoral esophageal epithelium from ESCC patients than from control subjects. This finding strengthens the evidence for a causal role for PAHs in esophageal carcinogenesis in northeastern Iran.
PMCID: PMC3505022  PMID: 20584779
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; immunohistochemistry; tissue microarray
3.  Prediagnostic serum levels of inflammatory biomarkers are correlated with future development of lung and esophageal cancer 
Cancer science  2014;105(9):1205-1211.
This study tests the hypothesis that pre-diagnostic serum levels of twenty cancer-associated inflammatory biomarkers correlate directly with future development of head & neck, esophageal, and lung cancers in a high-risk prospective cohort.
This is a nested case-control pilot study of subjects enrolled in the Golestan Cohort Study, an ongoing epidemiologic project assessing cancer trends in Golestan, Iran. We measured a panel of 20 cytokines, chemokines, and inflammatory molecules using Luminex® technology in serum samples collected two or more years before cancer diagnosis in 78 aerodigestive cancer cases and 81 controls. Data was analyzed using Wilcoxon rank-sum test, odds ratios (OR), ROC areas of discrimination, and multivariate analysis.
Biomarkers were profoundly and globally elevated in future esophageal and lung cancer patients compared to controls. Odds ratios were significant for association between several biomarkers and future development of esophageal cancer, including IL-1Rα (35.88), IFNα2 (34), FGF-2 (17.43), GM-CSF (17.43), et al. The same trend was observed among future lung cancer cases for G-CSF (27.68), GM-CSF (13.33), TNF-α (8.55), et al. By contrast, the majority of biomarkers studied showed no significant correlation with future head and neck cancer development.
This study provides the first direct evidence that multiple inflammatory biomarkers are coordinately elevated in future lung and esophageal cancer patients two or more years before cancer diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC4304770  PMID: 25040886
Serum Inflammatory Biomarker; Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma; Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma; Lung Cancer; Aerodigestive Cancer
4.  Risk of Gastric Cancer by Water Source: Evidence from the Golestan Case-Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0128491.
Gastric cancer (GC) is the world’s fifth most common cancer, and the third leading cause of cancer-related death. Over 70% of incident cases and deaths occur in developing countries. We explored whether disparities in access to improved drinking water sources were associated with GC risk in the Golestan Gastric Cancer Case Control Study.
Methods and Findings
306 cases and 605 controls were matched on age, gender, and place of residence. We conducted unconditional logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, education, head of household education, place of birth and residence, homeownership, home size, wealth score, vegetable consumption, and H. pylori seropositivity. Fully-adjusted ORs were 0.23 (95% CI: 0.05–1.04) for chlorinated well water, 4.58 (95% CI: 2.07–10.16) for unchlorinated well water, 4.26 (95% CI: 1.81–10.04) for surface water, 1.11 (95% CI: 0.61–2.03) for water from cisterns, and 1.79 (95% CI: 1.20–2.69) for all unpiped sources, compared to in-home piped water. Comparing unchlorinated water to chlorinated water, we found over a two-fold increased GC risk (OR 2.37, 95% CI: 1.56–3.61).
Unpiped and unchlorinated drinking water sources, particularly wells and surface water, were significantly associated with the risk of GC.
PMCID: PMC4449025  PMID: 26023788
5.  The Clinical Performance of an Office-Based Risk Scoring System for Fatal Cardiovascular Diseases in North-East of Iran 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0126779.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are becoming major causes of death in developing countries. Risk scoring systems for CVD are needed to prioritize allocation of limited resources. Most of these risk score algorithms have been based on a long array of risk factors including blood markers of lipids. However, risk scoring systems that solely use office-based data, not including laboratory markers, may be advantageous. In the current analysis, we validated the office-based Framingham risk scoring system in Iran.
The study used data from the Golestan Cohort in North-East of Iran. The following risk factors were used in the development of the risk scoring method: sex, age, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, hypertension treatment, current smoking, and diabetes. Cardiovascular risk functions for prediction of 10-year risk of fatal CVDs were developed.
A total of 46,674 participants free of CVD at baseline were included. Predictive value of estimated risks was examined. The resulting Area Under the ROC Curve (AUC) was 0.774 (95% CI: 0.762-0.787) in all participants, 0.772 (95% CI: 0.753-0.791) in women, and 0.763 (95% CI: 0.747-0.779) in men. AUC was higher in urban areas (0.790, 95% CI: 0.766-0.815). The predicted and observed risks of fatal CVD were similar in women. However, in men, predicted probabilities were higher than observed.
The AUC in the current study is comparable to results of previous studies while lipid profile was replaced by body mass index to develop an office-based scoring system. This scoring algorithm is capable of discriminating individuals at high risk versus low risk of fatal CVD.
PMCID: PMC4444120  PMID: 26011607
6.  Association between upper digestive tract microbiota and cancer predisposing states in the esophagus and stomach 
The human upper digestive tract microbial community (microbiota) is not well characterized and few studies have explored how it relates to human health. We examined the relationship between upper digestive tract microbiota and two cancer predisposing states, serum pepsinogen I/pepsinogen II ratio (PGI/II) (predictor of gastric cancer risk), and esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD) (the precursor lesion of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC)) in a cross-sectional design.
The Human Oral Microbe Identification Microarray was used to test for the presence of 272 bacterial species in 333 upper digestive tract samples from a Chinese cancer screening cohort. Serum PGI and PGII were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. ESD was determined by chromoendoscopy with biopsy.
Lower microbial richness (number of bacterial genera per sample) was significantly associated with lower PGI/II ratio (P=0.034) and the presence of ESD (P=0.018). We conducted principal component (PC) analysis on a β-diversity matrix (pairwise difference in microbiota), and observed significant correlations between PC1, PC3 and PGI/II (P=0.004, 0.009 respectively), and between PC1 and ESD (P=0.003).
lower microbial richness in upper digestive tract was independently associated with both cancer predisposing states in the esophagus and stomach (presence of ESD and lower PGI/II).
PMCID: PMC4011942  PMID: 24700175
microbiota; gastric cancer; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; esophageal squamous dysplasia; serum pepsinogen I/pepsinogen II ratio
7.  Variations of gastric corpus microbiota are associated with early esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and squamous dysplasia 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:8820.
Observational studies revealed a relationship between changes in gastric mucosa and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) which suggested a possible role for gastric microbiota in ESCC carcinogenesis. In this study we aimed to compare pattern of gastric corpus microbiota in ESCC with normal esophagus. Cases were included subjects with early ESCC (stage I–II) and esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD) as the cancer precursor. Control groups included age and sex-matched subjects with mid-esophagus esophagitis (diseased-control), and histologically normal esophagus (healthy-control). DNA was extracted from snap-frozen gastric corpus tissues and 16S rRNA was sequenced on GS-FLX Titanium. After noise removal, an average of 3004 reads per sample was obtained from 93 subjects. We applied principal coordinate analysis to ordinate distances from beta diversity data. Pattern of gastric microbiota using Unifrac (p = 0.004) and weighted Unifrac distances (p = 0.018) statistically varied between cases and healthy controls. Sequences were aligned to SILVA database and Clostridiales and Erysipelotrichales orders were more abundant among cases after controling for multiple testing (p = 0.011). No such difference was observed between mid-esophagitis and healthy controls. This study is the first to show that composition of gastric corpus mucosal microbiota differs in early ESCC and ESD from healthy esophagus.
PMCID: PMC4351546  PMID: 25743945
8.  Joint analysis of three genome-wide association studies of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in Chinese populations 
Wu, Chen | Wang, Zhaoming | Song, Xin | Feng, Xiao-Shan | Abnet, Christian C. | He, Jie | Hu, Nan | Zuo, Xian-Bo | Tan, Wen | Zhan, Qimin | Hu, Zhibin | He, Zhonghu | Jia, Weihua | Zhou, Yifeng | Yu, Kai | Shu, Xiao-Ou | Yuan, Jian-Min | Zheng, Wei | Zhao, Xue-Ke | Gao, She-Gan | Yuan, Zhi-Qing | Zhou, Fu-You | Fan, Zong-Min | Cui, Ji-Li | Lin, Hong-Li | Han, Xue-Na | Li, Bei | Chen, Xi | Dawsey, Sanford M. | Liao, Linda | Lee, Maxwell P. | Ding, Ti | Qiao, You-Lin | Liu, Zhihua | Liu, Yu | Yu, Dianke | Chang, Jiang | Wei, Lixuan | Gao, Yu-Tang | Koh, Woon-Puay | Xiang, Yong-Bing | Tang, Ze-Zhong | Fan, Jin-Hu | Han, Jing-Jing | Zhou, Sheng-Li | Zhang, Peng | Zhang, Dong-Yun | Yuan, Yuan | Huang, Ying | Liu, Chunling | Zhai, Kan | Qiao, Yan | Jin, Guangfu | Guo, Chuanhai | Fu, Jianhua | Miao, Xiaoping | Lu, Changdong | Yang, Haijun | Wang, Chaoyu | Wheeler, William A. | Gail, Mitchell | Yeager, Meredith | Yuenger, Jeff | Guo, Er-Tao | Li, Ai-Li | Zhang, Wei | Li, Xue-Min | Sun, Liang-Dan | Ma, Bao-Gen | Li, Yan | Tang, Sa | Peng, Xiu-Qing | Liu, Jing | Hutchinson, Amy | Jacobs, Kevin | Giffen, Carol | Burdette, Laurie | Fraumeni, Joseph F. | Shen, Hongbing | Ke, Yang | Zeng, Yixin | Wu, Tangchun | Kraft, Peter | Chung, Charles C. | Tucker, Margaret A. | Hou, Zhi-Chao | Liu, Ya-Li | Hu, Yan-Long | Liu, Yu | Wang, Li | Yuan, Guo | Chen, Li-Sha | Liu, Xiao | Ma, Teng | Meng, Hui | Sun, Li | Li, Xin-Min | Li, Xiu-Min | Ku, Jian-Wei | Zhou, Ying-Fa | Yang, Liu-Qin | Wang, Zhou | Li, Yin | Qige, Qirenwang | Yang, Wen-Jun | Lei, Guang-Yan | Chen, Long-Qi | Li, En-Min | Yuan, Ling | Yue, Wen-Bin | Wang, Ran | Wang, Lu-Wen | Fan, Xue-Ping | Zhu, Fang-Heng | Zhao, Wei-Xing | Mao, Yi-Min | Zhang, Mei | Xing, Guo-Lan | Li, Ji-Lin | Han, Min | Ren, Jing-Li | Liu, Bin | Ren, Shu-Wei | Kong, Qing-Peng | Li, Feng | Sheyhidin, Ilyar | Wei, Wu | Zhang, Yan-Rui | Feng, Chang-Wei | Wang, Jin | Yang, Yu-Hua | Hao, Hong-Zhang | Bao, Qi-De | Liu, Bao-Chi | Wu, Ai-Qun | Xie, Dong | Yang, Wan-Cai | Wang, Liang | Zhao, Xiao-Hang | Chen, Shu-Qing | Hong, Jun-Yan | Zhang, Xue-Jun | Freedman, Neal D | Goldstein, Alisa M. | Lin, Dongxin | Taylor, Philip R. | Wang, Li-Dong | Chanock, Stephen J.
Nature genetics  2014;46(9):1001-1006.
We conducted a joint (pooled) analysis of three genome-wide association studies (GWAS) 1-3 of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in ethnic Chinese (5,337 ESCC cases and 5,787 controls) with 9,654 ESCC cases and 10,058 controls for follow-up. In a logistic regression model adjusted for age, sex, study, and two eigenvectors, two new loci achieved genome-wide significance, marked by rs7447927 at 5q31.2 (per-allele odds ratio (OR) = 0.85, 95% CI 0.82-0.88; P=7.72x10−20) and rs1642764 at 17p13.1 (per-allele OR= 0.88, 95% CI 0.85-0.91; P=3.10x10−13). rs7447927 is a synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in TMEM173 and rs1642764 is an intronic SNP in ATP1B2, near TP53. Furthermore, a locus in the HLA class II region at 6p21.32 (rs35597309) achieved genome-wide significance in the two populations at highest risk for ESSC (OR=1.33, 95% CI 1.22-1.46; P=1.99x10−10). Our joint analysis identified new ESCC susceptibility loci overall as well as a new locus unique to the ESCC high risk Taihang Mountain region.
PMCID: PMC4212832  PMID: 25129146
9.  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.
PMCID: PMC3858487  PMID: 23921907
Gastric cancer; gastric cardia; gastric noncardia; Fas signaling; genetic variants; GWAS; single nucleotide polymorphisms; pathway genes
10.  Maté drinking and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in South America: pooled results from two large multi-center case-control studies 
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.
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).
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.
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.
Increased understanding of cancer risks with maté consumption enhances the understanding of the public health consequences given its purported health benefits.
PMCID: PMC3947123  PMID: 24130226
11.  Increased Risk of Stomach and Esophageal Malignancies in People With AIDS 
Gastroenterology  2012;143(4):943-950.e2.
People infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have an increased risk of some malignancies, but little is known about the effects of infection on risk of cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract. We evaluated the risks of different histologic and anatomic subtypes of carcinomas and non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs) of the stomach and esophagus in people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
We analyzed data from the HIV/AIDS Cancer Match Study, which links data collected from 1980 to 2007 for 16 US population-based HIV and AIDS and cancer registries. We compared risks of stomach and esophageal malignancies in people with AIDS (N = 596,955) with those of the general population using standardized incidence ratios (SIRs). We assessed calendar trends using Poisson regression.
People with AIDS had increased risks of carcinomas of the esophagus (SIR, 1.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37–2.07; n = 95) and stomach (SIR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.17–1.76; n = 96). Risk was increased for esophageal adenocarcinoma (SIR, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.31–2.70) and squamous cell carcinoma (SIR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.10 –1.92). People with AIDS had greater risks of carcinomas of the gastric cardia (SIR, 1.36; 95% CI, 0.83–2.11) and noncardia (SIR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.12–2.05) than the general population. Although most stomach and esophageal NHLs that developed in people with AIDS were diffuse large B-cell lymphomas, these individuals also had an increased risk of stomach mucosa–associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma (SIR, 5.99; 95% CI, 3.19 –10.2; n = 13). The incidence of carcinomas remained fairly constant over time, but rates of NHL decreased from 1980 to 2007 (Ptrend < .0001).
People with AIDS are at increased risk for developing esophageal and stomach carcinomas and NHLs. Although the incidence of NHL decreased from 1980 to 2007 as treatments for HIV infection improved, HIV-infected individuals face continued risks of esophageal and stomach carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC4236003  PMID: 22796240
MALT Lymphoma; Epidemiology; Virus-Associated Cancers; Immunosuppression
12.  Reproductive factors and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in northern Iran- A case-control study in a high risk area and literature review 
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.
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).
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3731403  PMID: 23238586
case-control study; esophageal cancer; miscarriage; parity; reproductive; squamous cell carcinoma
13.  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.
PMCID: PMC3644384  PMID: 23319416
Opium; Adenocarcinoma; Cardia
14.  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.
PMCID: PMC3697889  PMID: 23504502
15.  Association of tooth loss and oral hygiene with risk of gastric adenocarcinoma 
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3644330  PMID: 23503651
Adenocarcinoma; Tooth loss; Oral health; Stomach
16.  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.
PMCID: PMC3643422  PMID: 23358850
17.  Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and overall and Cause-specific Mortality: A Prospective Study of 50000 Individuals 
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.
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.
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.
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
18.  Global Changes in Gene Expression of Barrett's Esophagus Compared to Normal Squamous Esophagus and Gastric Cardia Tissues 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93219.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3979678  PMID: 24714516
19.  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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3931722  PMID: 24586635
20.  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.
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.
Cross-sectional study.
Baseline data (collected in 2004–2008) from a prospective population-based study in Golestan Province, Iran.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3671096  PMID: 23257174
hookah; ischemic heart disease; nass; tobacco; water-pipe
21.  Alcohol and acetaldehyde in African fermented milk mursik – A possible etiological factor for high incidence of esophageal cancer in western Kenya 
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.
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.
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.
Significant levels of ethanol and acetaldehyde were produced during mursik fermentation.
When ingested several times daily the repeated exposure to carcinogenic levels of acetaldehyde may contribute to esophageal carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3538938  PMID: 23155139
Candida; carcinogenesis; ethanol; fermented milk; lactobacilli
22.  Prospective Study of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration and Mortality in a Chinese Population 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(11):1043-1050.
Prospective epidemiologic data on the association between vitamin D and mortality are limited, particularly in Asian populations. Among subjects in Linxian, China, the authors aimed to test whether baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations in a prospective cohort were associated with all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality rates over 24 years of follow-up (1986–2010). Serum 25(OH)D concentrations were measured in 1,101 subjects using an immunoassay. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using Cox regression models that were adjusted for age, sex, tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, and hypertension. The 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile concentrations of 25(OH)D were 19.6, 31.9, and 48.4 nmol/L, respectively. During follow-up, 793 subjects died, including 279 who died of cerebrovascular accident, 217 who died of cancer, and 200 cardiovascular disease deaths. All-cause mortality was not associated with 25(OH)D concentrations using continuous models (for every 15 nmol/L, hazard ratio = 1.01, 95% confidence interval: 0.97, 1.05) or quartile models (fourth vs. first quartiles, hazard ratio = 1.06, 95% confidence interval: 0.87, 1.30; P for trend = 0.731). The authors also found no association with the cause-specific mortality outcomes. Results were similar for men and women. This study showed that prediagnostic serum 25(OH)D concentrations were not associated with all-cause or cause-specific mortality rates in this Chinese population who had low levels of vitamin D.
PMCID: PMC3571239  PMID: 23139250
cancer; cardiovascular diseases; China; mortality; vitamin D
23.  Iron in Relation to Gastric Cancer in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study 
Iron is an essential micronutrient that can have carcinogenic effects when at high or low concentrations. Previous studies of iron in relation to gastric cancer have not assessed subtype-specific relationships. We used the prospective ATBC Cancer Prevention Study to assess whether iron metrics were associated with gastric cardia cancer (GCC) and gastric noncardia cancer (GNCC).
We selected 341 incident gastric cancer cases (86 cardia, 172 noncardia, and 83 non-specified), accrued during 22 years of follow-up, and 341 individually matched controls. We measured prediagnostic serum iron, ferritin, unsaturated iron binding capacity (UIBC), and C-reactive protein. Total iron binding capacity (TIBC) and transferrin saturation were estimated from these metrics. Dietary iron exposures were estimated from a food frequency questionnaire. Multivariable logistic regression was used for analysis.
Serum iron metrics were not associated with GCC, except for a potential ‘n’-shaped relationship with TIBC (global p=0.038). GNCC was inversely associated with serum ferritin (global p=0.024), serum iron (global p=0.060) and, possibly, transferrin saturation. TIBC appeared to share a ‘u’shaped relationship with GNCC (global p=0.033). Dietary iron exposures were not associated with either subsite. Adjustment for Helicobacter pylori and gastric atrophy had little effect on observed associations.
We found little evidence for the involvement of iron exposure in the pathogenesis of GCC. GNCC was associated with an iron profile similar to that of iron deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3493744  PMID: 23001240
Helicobacter pylori; Iron; Nested Case-Control Studies; Prospective Studies; Stomach Neoplasms
24.  Genetic Variants in Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Pathway Genes and Risk of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Gastric Cancer in a Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68999.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway regulates cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival, and is frequently dysregulated in esophageal and gastric cancers. Few studies have comprehensively examined the association between germline genetic variants in the EGFR pathway and risk of esophageal and gastric cancers. Based on a genome-wide association study in a Han Chinese population, we examined 3443 SNPs in 127 genes in the EGFR pathway for 1942 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs), 1758 gastric cancers (GCs), and 2111 controls. SNP-level analyses were conducted using logistic regression models. We applied the resampling-based adaptive rank truncated product approach to determine the gene- and pathway-level associations. The EGFR pathway was significantly associated with GC risk (P = 2.16×10−3). Gene-level analyses found 10 genes to be associated with GC, including FYN, MAPK8, MAP2K4, GNAI3, MAP2K1, TLN1, PRLR, PLCG2, RPS6KB2, and PIK3R3 (P<0.05). For ESCC, we did not observe a significant pathway-level association (P = 0.72), but gene-level analyses suggested associations between GNAI3, CHRNE, PAK4, WASL, and ITCH, and ESCC (P<0.05). Our data suggest an association between specific genes in the EGFR signaling pathway and risk of GC and ESCC. Further studies are warranted to validate these associations and to investigate underlying mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3715462  PMID: 23874846
25.  A multi-day environmental study of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in a high-risk region for esophageal cancer in China 
Linzhou, China has one of the highest rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the world. Exposure to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), such as benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), may play a role in this increased risk. To better understand PAH sources, we measured PAHs in the air and food of 20 non-smokers over multiple days and compared the concentrations to a urinary PAH biomarker, 1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG). Sampling occurred over four consecutive days. Kitchen air samples (days 2–3) and duplicate diet samples (days 1–4) were analyzed for 14 or more unique PAHs, including BaP. Daily urine samples (days 1–3) were analyzed for 1-OHPG. Mixed-effects models were used to evaluate the associations between air or food PAH concentrations and urine 1-OHPG concentrations. The median kitchen air BaP concentration was 10.2 ng/m3 (inter-quartile range (IQR): 5.1–20.2 ng/m3). The median daily food BaP concentration and intake were 0.08 ng/g (IQR=0.04–0.16 ng/g) and 86 ng/day (IQR=41–142 ng/day), respectively. The median 1-OHPG concentration was 3.36 pmol/mL (IQR=2.09–6.98 pmol/mL). In mixed-effects models, 1-OHPG concentration increased with same-day concentration of food BaP (p=0.07). Though PAH concentrations in air were not associated with 1-OHPG concentrations, the high concentrations of PAHs in both air and food suggest that they are both important routes of exposure to PAHs in this population. Further evaluation of the role of PAH exposure from air and food in the elevated rates of esophageal cancer in this region is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3504638  PMID: 22805987
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; cancer; China; dietary exposure; inhalation exposure; biomonitoring; multimedia exposure assessment

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