British Journal of Nutrition

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Vitamin D, calcium and dairy intake, and risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma and its precursor conditions

Helen G. Mulhollanda1 c1, Liam J. Murraya1, Lesley A. Andersona1 and Marie M. Cantwella1

on behalf of the FINBAR study group

a1 Cancer Epidemiology and Health Services Research Group, Centre for Public Health, Queens University Belfast, Mulhouse Building, RVH Site, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BJ, UK


Evidence is accumulating that vitamin D may be protective against carcinogenesis, although exceptions have been observed for some digestive tract neoplasms. The aim of the present study was to explore the association between dietary vitamin D and related nutrients and the risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma and its precursor conditions, Barrett's oesophagus and reflux oesophagitis. In an all-Ireland case–control study conducted between March 2002 and July 2005, 218 oesophageal adenocarcinoma patients, 212 Barrett's oesophagus patients, 208 reflux oesophagitis patients and 252 population-based controls completed a 101-item FFQ, and provided lifestyle and demographic information. Multiple logistic regression analysis was applied to examine the association between dietary intake and disease risk. Oesophageal adenocarcinoma risk was significantly greater for individuals with the highest compared with the lowest tertile of vitamin D intake (OR 1·99, 95 % CI 1·03, 3·86; P for trend = 0·02). The direct association could not be attributed to a particular vitamin D food source. Vitamin D intake was unrelated to Barrett's oesophagus and reflux oesophagitis risk. No significant associations were observed for Ca or dairy intake and oesophageal adenocarcinoma, Barrett's oesophagus or reflux oesophagitis development. High vitamin D intake may increase oesophageal adenocarcinoma risk but is not related to reflux oesophagitis and Barrett's oesophagus. Ca and dairy product intake did not influence the development of these oesophageal lesions. These findings suggest that there may be population subgroups at an increased risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma if advice to improve vitamin D intake from foods is implemented. Limited work has been conducted in this area, and further research is required.

(Received August 09 2010)

(Revised January 25 2011)

(Accepted January 26 2011)

(Online publication May 09 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr H. G. Mulholland, fax +44 2890235900, email


Abbreviations: FINBAR, Factors INfluencing the Barrett's Adenocarcinoma Relationship