Diabetes mellitus carries a risk of esophageal cancer: A meta-analysis

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Many studies have showed that diabetes mellitus (DM) might be a risk factor for certain types of cancers. However, there are still inconsistent results on the effects of DM on the risk of esophageal cancer (EC). The objective of this study is to investigate the association and to quantify the correlation between DM and EC by a meta-analysis.


The initial search identified 339 articles. Those publications that did not report the exact number of EC cases were removed. Finally, 13 meaningful studies were extracted from the databases of PubMed, MEDLINE, and Web of Science. All pooled analyses of risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were assessed by a random-effect or fixed-effect model. Subgroup analysis was implemented on the basis of the sex or ethnicity. I2 value was used to assess heterogeneity, and funnel plot analysis was for publication bias.


The result showed that there was a positive correlation between type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and EC risk (RR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.12–1.47, P < .001). Subgroup analysis based on gender showed that male was an important risk factor for EC (RR = 1.53, 95% CI: 1.44–1.62, P < .001), but female was not (RR = 1.23, 95% CI: 0.41–3.69, P = .71). In addition, subgroup analysis based on ethnicity showed that DM was significantly correlated to EC in North America subjects (RR = 1.39, 95% CI: 1.31–1.47, P < .001), and in Europe subjects (RR = 1.37, 95% CI: 1.02–1.83, P = .04), whereas no correlation was found in Asian subjects (RR = 0.98, 95% CI: 0.50–1.95, P = .96). Furthermore, DM had a correlation to an increased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) (RR = 1.43, 95% CI: 1.35–1.51, P < .001).


This meta-analysis indicates that DM is positively correlated to EC. However, the results should be interpreted with caution because of the limitations on potential clinical confounding factors in each study included in this meta-analysis.

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