Gastro-oesophageal reflux is a public health concern which could have associated oesophageal complications, including adenocarcinoma, and possibly also head-and-neck and lung cancers. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that reflux increases all-cause and cancer-specific mortalities in an unselected cohort.Design
The Nord-Trøndelag health study (HUNT), a Norwegian population-based cohort study, was used to identify individuals with and without reflux in 1995–1997 and 2006–2008, with follow-up until 2014. All-cause mortality and cancer-specific mortality were assessed from the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry and Cancer Registry. Multivariable Cox regression was used to calculate HRs with 95% CIs for mortality with adjustments for potential confounders.Results
We included 4758 participants with severe reflux symptoms and 51 381 participants without reflux symptoms, contributing 60 323 and 747 239 person-years at risk, respectively. Severe reflux was not associated with all-cause mortality, overall cancer-specific mortality or mortality in cancer of the head-and-neck or lung. However, for men with severe reflux a sixfold increase in oesophageal adenocarcinoma-specific mortality was found (HR 6.09, 95% CI 2.33 to 15.93) and the mortality rate was 0.27 per 1000 person-years. For women, the corresponding mortality was not significantly increased (HR 3.68, 95% CI 0.88 to 15.27) and the mortality rate was 0.05 per 1000 person-years.Conclusions
Individuals with severe reflux symptoms do not seem to have increased all-cause mortality or overall cancer-specific mortality. Although the absolute risk is small, individuals with severe reflux symptoms have a clearly increased oesophageal adenocarcinoma-specific mortality.