Moderate Alcohol Drinking and Reduced Risk of Kidney Cancer (or Renal Cell Cancer)

The moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine or spirits) appears to lower the risk of developing kidney cancer according to a report in the British Journal of Cancer.

The population-based case-control study of Swedish men and women aged 20-79 years without previously diagnosed renal cell cancer consisted of 855 cases and 1,204 controls. The research was led by Dr. Alicja Wolk of the Karolin's Institute in Stockholm and her colleagues. Its most important strengths were its population-based design and the large number of cases studied.

The major finding was that the risk of developing kidney cancer dropped about 40% among those who drank alcohol in moderation.

The investigators concluded that the lower risk found for the three different alcoholic beverages and total ethanol intake suggests that "alcohol itself rather than a particular type of drink is responsible for the reduction in risk."



  • Greving, J. P., Lee, J. E., Wolk, A., Lukkien, C., Lindblad, P. and Bergström, A. Alcoholic beverages and risk of renal cell cancer. British Journal of Cancer, 2007, 97, 429-433. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603890

Many other case-control and prospective studies have also found moderate drinking to reduce the risk of kidney cancer. They include:

  • Asal NR, Risser DR, Kadamani S, Geyer JR, Lee ET, Cherng N (1988) Risk factors in renal cell carcinoma: I. Methodology, demographics, tobacco, beverage use, and obesity. Cancer Detection Prevention 11: 359–377.
  • Goodman MT, Morgenstern H, Wynder EL (1986) A case–control study of factors affecting the development of renal cell cancer. Am J Epidemiology 124: 926–941. Hu J, Mao Y, White K (2003) Diet and vitamin or mineral supplements and risk of renal cell carcinoma in Canada. Cancer Causes Control 14: 705–714.
  • Lee JE, Giovannucci E, Smith-Warner SA, Spiegelman D, Willett WC, Curhan GC (2006) Total fluid intake and use of individual beverages and risk of renal cell cancer in two large cohorts. Cancer Epidemiological Biomarkers Prevention 15: 1204–1211.
  • Lee JE, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, Adami HO, Albanes D, Bernstein L, van den Brandt PA, Buring JE, Cho E, Folsom AR, Freudenheim JL, Giovannucci E, Graham S, Horn-Ross PL, Leitzmann MF, McCullough ML, Miller AB, Parker AS, Rodriguez C, Rohan TE, Schatzkin A, Schouten LJ, Virtanen M, Willett WC, Wolk A, Zhang SM, Smith-Warner SA (2007) Alcohol intake and renal cell cancer in a pooled analysis of 12 prospective studies. J National Cancer Institute 16: 801–810.

    Mahabir S, Leitzmann MF, Virtanen MJ, Virtamo J, Pietinen P, Albanes D, Taylor PR (2005) Prospective study of alcohol drinking and renal cell cancer risk in a cohort of finnish male smokers. Cancer Epidemiological Biomarkers Prev 14: 170–175.
  • Nicodemus KK, Sweeney C, Folsom AR (2004) Evaluation of dietary, medical and lifestyle risk factors for incident kidney cancer in postmenopausal women. Int J Cancer 108: 115–121.
  • Parker AS, Cerhan JR, Lynch CF, Ershow AG, Cantor KP (2002) Gender, alcohol consumption, and renal cell carcinoma. Am J Epidemiology 155: 455–462.
  • Rashidkhani B, Åkesson A, Lindblad P, Wolk A (2005) Alcohol consumption and risk of renal cell carcinoma - A prospective study of Swedish women. Int J Cancer 117: 848–853.
  • Wolk A, Gridley G, Niwa S, Lindblad P, McCredie M, Mellemgaard A, Mandel JS, Wahrendorf J, McLaughlin JK, Adami HO (1996) International renal cell cancer study. VII. Role of diet. Int J Cancer 65: 67–73.

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