Precancerous condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced with tissue similar to the intestinal lining

Barrett’s esophagus is a precancerous condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced with tissue similar to the intestinal lining.

Barrett’s esophagus is estimated to affect 1.6 to 6.8 percent of the population. Barrett’s esophagus primarily affects men, particularly Caucasians, with 55 being the average age of diagnosis. 

The exact cause of Barrett’s is unknown and determining when the problem started is usually difficult. However gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a risk factor, as chronic GERD may damage the cells in the esophagus. Between 5-10 percent of people with GERD develop Barrett’s esophagus. Other risk factors include obesity—specifically, high levels of belly fat—smoking and possibly genetics.

People with Barrett’s esophagus are at increased risk for a rare type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma.

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