BACKGROUND: Previous studies had been published to explore the association about carbohydrate intake on esophageal cancer risk, with inconsistent results. This meta-analysis aimed to assess the association between dietary carbohydrate intake and the risk of esophageal cancer. METHODS: Suitable studies were carefully searched with the databases of PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, and Wanfang Database. A random-effects model was used for combined odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI). Stata software 14.0 was adopted for the analysis.RESULTS: At the end, 13 publications were included in our study. Pooled results suggested that highest category vs. lowest category of carbohydrate intake could reduce the risk of esophageal cancer (summarized OR= 0.627, 95% CI= 0.505-0.778, I2= 59.9%, P for heterogeneity= 0.001). The results for carbohydrate intake on the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma (summarized OR= 0.569, 95% CI= 0.417-0.777) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (summarized OR= 0.665, 95% CI= 0.453-0.975) were consistent with the overall result. A positive association was found in European, Asian, North American populations, instead of South American populations. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusions, dietary carbohydrate intake may have a protective effect against the risk of esophageal cancer.

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