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 26 May 2018

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News

The effect of alcohol consumption on cancer risk

There is no evidence of a threshold effect for most alcohol-related neoplasms, according to the results of a meta-analysis published in the latest issue of the British Journal of Cancer.

News image

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Researchers from Milan, Italy, conducted a meta-analysis of alcohol drinking and cancer risk.

They evaluated the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of 18 different types of neoplasm.

Epidemiological literature from 1966 to 2000 was searched, using several bibliographic databases.

Meta-regression models were fitted, considering linear and non-linear effects of alcohol intake.

A total of 235 studies, including over 117,000 cases, were considered.

Alcohol significantly increased risk of the following cancers:
- Oral and pharyneal
- Esophageal
- Laryngeal
British Journal of Cancer
Strong trends in risk were observed for cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, and larynx.

Less strong direct relations were seen for cancers of the stomach, colon and rectum, liver, breast, and ovary.

The team found that, for all these diseases, significant increased risks were found for ethanol intake of 25 g per day.

No significant or consistent relation was observed for cancers of the pancreas, lung, prostate, or bladder.

Allowance for tobacco appreciably modified the relations with laryngeal, lung, and bladder cancers. However, this was not found with oral, esophageal, or colorectal cancers.

Author V. Bagnardi concluded on behalf of the group, "This meta-analysis showed no evidence of a threshold effect for most alcohol-related neoplasms.

"The inference is limited by absence of a distinction between lifelong abstainers and former drinkers in several studies, and the possible selective inclusion of relevant sites only in cohort studies."

Br J Cancer 2001; 85(11): 1700-5
18 December 2001

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