Wine and Barrett’s Esophagus

ID-10052469Barrett’s esophagus is a condition of esophagus in which condition the normal epithelial lining of the esophagus is replaced by abnormal cells generally due to reflux (known as chronic GERD or gastro-esophageal reflux disease) of the stomach contents (mainly gastric acid and bile) to the esophagus. Some patients with reflux of the stomach contents to the esophagus may develop ulcer and due to ulcer the esophagus may become narrow and rarely some patients may develop esophageal cancer.

Wine seems to reduce and protect from development of Barrett’s esophagus, so is higher educational status (although the reason is not clear but thought to be related to wine drinking and college degree). Studies in US (California) involving patients with diagnosed Barrett’s esophagus found that the patients with Barrett’s esophagus had a 30 fold to 125 fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer when compared to the general population.

The type of alcohol intake seem to be important from the study as the total alcohol consumption was not found to have significant association with the risk of Barrett’s esophagus. However, it was found that consumption of one glass of wine per day, on an average, and the risk of Barrett’s esophagus was much less in compare to non-drinkers. Wine drinkers are more likely to have college degrees and also they regularly take vitamin supplements than those who drink beer or liquor. A strong association was also observed between educational status and a low risk of Barrett’s esophagus.

One factor that may be important is the presence of compounds like polyphenol in red wines, which have important protective action on oxidative stress. The study concluded that drinking wine may reduce the oxidative damage caused by GERD, thereby decreasing the risk of esophagitis and Barrett’s esophagus.


“Image courtesy of Simon Howden /”.

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