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Association of quantity of alcohol and frequency of consumption with cancer mortality
Date:10/20/2011

A paper from the National Institutes of Health in the United States has evaluated the separate and combined effects of the frequency of alcohol consumption and the average quantity of alcohol drunk per occasion and how that relates to mortality risk from individual cancers as well as all cancers. The analysis is based on repeated administrations of the National Health Interview Survey in the US, assessing more than 300,000 subjects who suffered over 8,000 deaths from cancer. The research reports on total cancer deaths and deaths from lung, colorectal, prostate, and breast cancers.

The overall message of this analysis is that light to moderate alcohol intake does not appear to increase the risk of all-site cancer (and light drinking was shown in this study to be associated with a significant decrease in risk). Similarly, light to moderate consumption was not associated with site-specific cancers of the lung, colorectum, breast, or prostate.

As quantity consumed increased from 1 drink on drinking days to 3 or more drinks on drinking days (US drinks are 14g), risk of all-site cancer mortality increased by 22% among all participants. For total alcohol consumption (frequency x quantity), the data indicate a significant reduction in the risk of all-site cancers (RR=0.87, CI 0.80-0.94). Moderate drinking consistently shows no effect in the analysis, and only heavier drinking was associated with an increase in all-site cancer risk. For site-specific cancers, an increase in risk of lung cancer was seen for heavier drinkers, with a tendency for less cancer among light drinkers. There was no evidence of an effect of total alcohol consumption on colorectal, prostate, or breast cancer.

The authors excluded non-drinkers in a second analysis in which they used categories of usual daily quantity and of frequency of consumption in an attempt to investigate their separate effects. For all-site cancer and for lung cancer, these results again sh
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Contact: R. Curtis Ellison
ellison@bu.edu
508-333-1256
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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