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Friday, May 24, 2013

Critique 112: Relation of alcohol intake to risk of dying from cancer — 23 May 2013

There have been many papers relating alcohol intake to specific types of cancer. It is clear that heavy drinking is associated with an increase in the risk of most upper aero-digestive cancers (e.g., cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx), and even moderate drinking has been associated with a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, the risk of thyroid cancer, lymphoma, renal cancer, and certain other cancers has been shown to be lower among moderate drinkers than among abstainers.
There have been few studies describing the relation between varying levels of alcohol consumption and the total risk of cancer. The present paper presents a meta-analysis relating alcohol intake to all cancer mortality, with data on more than 48,000 cancer deaths reported in 18 prospective cohort studies.
Surprisingly, the analyses demonstrated a J-shaped curve for alcohol and cancer. Light drinkers showed a statistically significant 9% lower risk, moderate drinkers showed no effect, and heavier drinkers showed a 32% increased risk of all cancer mortality.  > > > >  Read More