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Heavy drinkers face significantly increased cancer risk
Date:8/3/2009

This release is available in French.

Heavy drinkers of beer and spirits face a much higher risk of developing cancer than the population at large, says a group of Montreal epidemiologists and cancer researchers. Their findings show that people in the highest consumption category increased their risk of developing oesophageal cancer sevenfold, colon cancer by 80% and even lung cancer by 50%.

In all, the researchers found statistically significant relationships between heavy consumption of beer and spririts and six different cancers. Moderate drinking (i.e. less than daily) and wine consumption did not show the same effects, however.

The research was conducted by Dr. Andrea Benedetti of McGill University, Dr. Marie-Elise Parent of INRS-Institut Armand Frappier and Dr. Jack Siemiatycki of the Universit de Montral.

"We looked at the data in two ways," said Benedetti, an assistant professor at McGill's Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. "We compared people who drank heavily to our reference group, who abstained or drank only very occasionally. We also looked for trends across our categories: non-drinkers, weekly drinkers and daily drinkers.

The results were astounding. "We saw increased risk for esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer," Benedetti added. "The strongest risk was for esophageal and liver cancer."

"This study crystalizes many strands of evidence from different studies on different types of cancer and alcohol consumption," said Dr. Jack Siematycki, professor, Canada Research Chair and Guzzo Chair in Environment and Cancer, at the Universit de Montral.

The researchers used data originally collected for a large occupational cancer study conducted in Montreal in the 1980s. The
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Contact: Mark Shainblum
mark.shainblum@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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