Alcohol use and cancer burden

January 01, 0001

Alcohol use and cancer burden

Alcohol has been linked with some types of cancer. These European and North American researchers used relative risk calculated from a cohort study to determine the burden of cancer attributable to alcohol consumption. They used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study (n=363,988).

The researchers report: "If we assume causality, among men and women, 10% and 3% of the incidence of total cancer was attributable to former and current alcohol consumption in the selected European countries. For selected cancers the figures were 44% and 25% for upper aerodigestive tract, 33% and 18% for liver, 17% and 4% for colorectal cancer for men and women, respectively, and 5.0% for female breast cancer. A substantial part of the alcohol attributable fraction in 2008 was associated with alcohol consumption higher than the recommended upper limit: 33,037 of 178,578 alcohol related cancer cases in men and 17,470 of 397,043 alcohol related cases in women.."

The researchers concluded: "In western Europe, an important proportion of cases of cancer can be attributable to alcohol consumption, especially consumption higher than the recommended upper limits. These data support current political efforts to reduce or to abstain from alcohol consumption to reduce the incidence of cancer."

This study raises substantial concerns about the cancer risk from alcohol use.

For the full abstract, click here.

BMJ 342:d1584, 7 April 2011
© 2011 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
Alcohol attributable burden of incidence of cancer in eight European countries based on results from prospective cohort study. Madlen Schütze, Heiner Boeing, Tobias Pischon, et al. Correspondence to M Schütze: [email protected]

Category: A. General/Unspecified. Keywords: alcohol, cancer, incident, esophageal, liver, prospective cohort study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 6 May 2011

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.