Poultry and fish intake and risk of esophageal cancer: A meta-analysis of observational studies

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Mixed results regarding the association between white meat (including poultry and fish) intake and the risk of esophageal cancer (EC) have been reported. We performed a meta-analysis to provide a quantitative assessment of this association.


Relevant studies were identified in MEDLINE until December 31, 2012. Summary relative risks (SRRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were pooled with a random-effects model.


A total of 20 articles, including 3990 cases with EC, were included in this meta-analysis. Compared to individuals with the lowest level of fish intake, individuals with the highest fish intake were found to have reduced risk of EC (SRRs = 0.69; 95% CIs: 0.57–0.85), while poultry intake was not associated with EC (SRRs = 0.83; 95% CIs: 0.62–1.12). Total fish consumption is associated with reduced esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) risk, while poultry consumption was not associated with ESCC risk. Additionally, neither poultry nor fish consumption was associated with esophageal adenocarcinoma risk.


Our results suggest that fish consumption may have a potential role in EC prevention, while poultry intake has no effect. However, because the majority of data was from case-control studies, further well-designed prospective studies are warranted.

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