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BACKGROUND: Obesity is a major risk factor for esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) and its precursor Barrett's esophagus (BE). Research suggests that individuals with high genetic risk to obesity have a higher BE/EA risk. To facilitate understanding of biological factors that lead to progression from BE to EA, the present study investigated the shared genetic background of BE/EA and obesity-related traits. METHODS: Cross-trait linkage disequilibrium score regression was applied to summary statistics from genome-wide association meta-analyses on BE/EA and on obesity traits. Body mass index (BMI) was used as a proxy for general obesity, and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) for abdominal obesity. For single marker analyses, all genome-wide significant risk alleles for BMI and WHR were compared with summary statistics of the BE/EA meta-analyses. RESULTS: Sex-combined analyses revealed a significant genetic correlation between BMI and BE/EA (rg = 0.13, P = 2 × 10-04) and a rg of 0.12 between WHR and BE/EA (P = 1 × 10-02). Sex-specific analyses revealed a pronounced genetic correlation between BMI and EA in females (rg = 0.17, P = 1.2 × 10-03), and WHR and EA in males (rg = 0.18, P = 1.51 × 10-02). On the single marker level, significant enrichment of concordant effects was observed for BMI and BE/EA risk variants (P = 8.45 × 10-03) and WHR and BE/EA risk variants (P = 2 × 10-02). CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides evidence for sex-specific genetic correlations that might reflect specific biological mecha-nisms. The data demonstrate that shared genetic factors are particularly relevant in progression from BE to EA. IMPACT: Our study quantifies the genetic correlation between BE/EA and obesity. Further research is now warranted to elucidate these effects and to understand the shared pathophysiology.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev

Publication Date





427 - 433


Adenocarcinoma, Barrett Esophagus, Body Mass Index, Disease Progression, Esophageal Neoplasms, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genome-Wide Association Study, Humans, Linkage Disequilibrium, Male, Meta-Analysis as Topic, Obesity, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Quantitative Trait Loci, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Sex Factors, Waist-Hip Ratio