Alcohol and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

There is strong evidence from around the world that drinking alcoholic beverages reduces the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.*

  • A pooled analysis of data from nine case-control studies from the US, the UK, Sweden and Italy in the International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium (InterLymph) of 15,175 participants found that men and women who drank alcohol had a lower risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma than did those who didn't drink and current drinkers had a lower risk than did former drinkers. The protective effect of alcohol did not vary by alcoholic beverage type (beer, wine or distilled spirits). 1
  • A very large prospective study examining lifestyle factors among 473,984 participants (285,079 men and 188,905 women) found that drinkers had a significantly lower risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma than did nondrinkers. For example, among those who consumed over 28 drinks per week, the risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma was about 25% lower than among nondrinkers. This relationship existed for beer, wine and distilled spirits. 2
  • In a population-based case-control study of adult women and men from four US Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results study centers (Detroit, Michigan; Iowa; Los Angeles, California; and Seattle, Washington), researchers found that those who drank alcohol had a significantly lower risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma than did nondrinkers. 3
  • A cohort of 35,156 women aged 55-69 years who participated in the Iowa Women's Health Study was analyzed over a nine-year follow-up period. The researchers found that alcohol consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma compared to abstaining from drinking alcohol. They also found that the amount of alcohol consumed, rather than the form of alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, or distilled spirits), appeared to provide the protection against the disease. 4
  • A population based case-control study of residents of Los Angeles County found that the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among women decreased with increased consumption of alcoholic beverages. The risk of NHL was 50% lower among those consuming five or more drinks per week than among those who abstained from alcohol. 5
  • In a multi-center case-control study in Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Czech Republic between 1998 and 2004, researchers found that alcohol consumption significantly reduced the risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma among men and among people living in non-Mediterranean countries. 6

Drinking alcohol appears to reduce the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In addition, the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health and greater longevity than is either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.

Moderate drinking has been described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as a man consuming four drinks on any day and no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, it has been defined as consuming three drinks in any one day and and no more than seven drinks per week. It now uses the term low-risk drinking to describe those guidelines Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes consuming one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men as moderate drinking.

Different countries use widely differing definitions of moderate or sensible drinking, based largely on political or cultural considerations rather than scientific evidence..

A standard alcoholic drink is:

  • A 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
  • A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
  • A shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits such as vodka, tequila, or rum either straight or in a mixed drink.

Standard drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol. To a breathalyzer, they're all the same.

There is no evidence that any form of alcohol (beer, wine, or liquor -- distilled spirits) confers greater health benefits than another.

 

* The terms "non-hodgkin's" and "non-Hodgkin" are both used in the scientific medical research literature.

Note: This website provides no recommendations for drinking alcohol and non-Hodgkin lymphoma or for any other health or medical matter and none should be inferred.

Readings on Alcohol and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma:

  • Alexander, DD., et al. The non-Hodgkin lymphomas: A review of the epidemiologic literature. International Journal of Cancer, 2007, 120(S12), 1-39.
  • Brown, L.M., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Leukemia Research,1992, 16(10), 979-984.
  • Chang, E.T., et al. Alcohol intake and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in men and women. Cancer Causes and Control, 2004, 15(10), 1067-1076.
  • Chiu, B.C., et al. Alcohol consumption and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in a cohort of older women. British Journal of Cancer, 1999, 80(9), 1476-82.
  • Ekström-Smedby, Karin. Epidemiology and etiology of non-Hodgkin lymphoma – a review. Acta Oncologica, 2006, 45(3), 258-271.
  • Hagner, P.R., et al. alcohol consumption and decreased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: role of mTOR dysfunction. Blood, 2009, 113(22), 5526.
  • Lim, U., et al. Alcohol, smoking, and body size in relation to incident Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2007, 166(6), 697-708.
  • Lim, U., et al. Dietary Determinants of One-Carbon Metabolism and the Risk of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: NCI-SEER Case-Control Study, 1998–2000. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2005, 162(10), 953-964.
  • Monnerau, A., et al. Cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, and risk of lymphoid neoplasms: results of a French case–control study, Cancer Causes and Control, 2008, 19(10), 1147-1160.
  • Morton, L.M. An Epidemiological Investigation of the Roles of Alcohol Consumption and Cigarette Smoking in the Etiology of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Thesis. Yale University, 2004.
  • Morton, L.M., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a pooled analysis. Lancet Oncology, 2005, 6(7), 469-76.
  • Nelson, R.A., et al. Alcohol, tobacco and recreational drug use and the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. British Journal of Cancer, 1997, 76(11), 1532-1537.
  • Polesel, J., et al. Dietary folate, alcohol consumption, and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Nurtition and Cancer, 2007, 57(2), 146-150.
  • Tavani, A., et al. Alcohol drinking and risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. European Journal of clinical Nutrition, 2001, 55(10), 824-826.
  • Willett, E.V., et al. Tobacco and alcohol consumption and the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer Causes and Control, 2004, 15(8), 771-780.

References:

  • 1. Morton, L.M., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a pooled analysis. Lancet Oncology, 2005, 6(7), 469-76.
  • 2. Lim, U., et al. Alcohol, smoking, and body size in relation to incident Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2007, 166(6), 697-708.
  • 3. Lim, U., et al. Dietary Determinants of One-Carbon Metabolism and the Risk of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: NCI-SEER Case-Control Study, 1998–2000. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2005, 162(10), 953-964.
  • 4. Chiu, B.C., et al. Alcohol consumption and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in a cohort of older women. British Journal of Cancer, 1999, 80(9), 1476-82.
  • 5. Nelson, R.A., et al. Alcohol, tobacco and recreational drug use and the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. British Journal of Cancer, 1997, 76(11), 1532-1537.
  • 6. Besson H., et al. Tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: a European multicenter case-control study (Epilymph). International Journal of Cancer, 2006, 119(4), 901-8.

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