Alcohol and Endometrial Cancer
There is no evidence that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for developing endometrial cancer. After analyzing all the research findings, that is the conclusion of the National Institutes of Health,1 the American Cancer Society,2 the American Society of Clinical Oncology,3 the Mayo Clinic,4 the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center,5 the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania6 and other medical organizations.
Endometrial cancer is a cancer that begins in the inner lining of the uterus or womb. Risk factors for developing endometrial cancer are commonly identified as
Estrogen replacement therapy without the use of progesterone
History of endometrial polyps or other benign or harmless growths of the uterine lining
Infertility (inability to become pregnant)
Tamoxifen, a drug for breast cancer treatment
Never having been pregnant
Starting menstruation at an early age (before age 12)
Starting menopause after age 50.7
The American Society of Clinical Oncology explains that
A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing cancer. Some risk factors can be controlled, such as smoking, and some cannot be controlled, such as age and family history. Although risk factors can influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. However, knowing your risk factors and communicating them to your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health-care choices.8
Fortunately, the Society points out that there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, including:
- Taking birth control pills, especially over a long period of time
- Assessing the risk of uterine cancer before considering HRT, especially estrogen replacement therapy
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- If diabetic, maintaining good self-care, such as regularly monitoring blood glucose levels9
The Mayo Clinic has identified a number of common symptoms of endometrial cancer:
- Any bleeding after menopause
Prolonged periods or bleeding between periods
An abnormal, nonbloody discharge from your vagina
Pain during intercourse
Unintended weight loss10
Many of these symptoms can indicate the existence of other conditions but it is wise to consult a doctor promptly because early detection of endometrial cancer greatly increases the chances that it can be cured.
Drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for developing endometrial cancer. However, the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health and greater longevity than is either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.
Drinking in moderation has been described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as a woman consuming three drinks in any one day and an average of seven drinks per week.
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 particular form of alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, or distilled spirits) confers greater health benefits than any other.
Note: This website is informational only. It does not provide health or medical advice and none should be inferred.
Readings on Drinking Alcohol and Endometrial Cancer:
- (note: listing does not imply endorsement)
- Bravi, F., et al. Food groups and endometrial cancer risk: a case-control study from Italy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2009, 200(3), 293.
Chubak, J., et al. Endometrial cancer risk in estrogen users after switching to estrogen-progestin therapy. Cancer Causes and Control, 2007, 18(9), 1001-1007.
- Cust, A.E., et al. Dietary carbohydrates, glycemic index, glycemic load, and endometrial cancer within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Cohort. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2007, 166(8), 912-923.
- Dal Maso, L. et al. Circulating adiponectin and endometrial cancer risk. Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 2004, 89(3), 1160-1163.
- Dalvi, T.M., et al. Dietary patterns, Mediterranean diet, and endometrial cancer risk. Cancer Causes and Control, 2007, 18(9), 957-966.
- Haiman, C.A., et al. A polymorphism in CYP17 and endometrial cancer risk. Cancer research, 2001, 61(10), 3955-3960.
- Hormone replacement drug poses endometrial cancer risk. Nursing Times, 2005, 101(19), 8.
- Horn-Ross, P.L., et al. Phytoestrogen intake and endometrial cancer risk. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, 2003, 58(111), 726-727. 58, Part 11 (2003): 726-727.
- Schildkraut, G.L, et al. Progestin and estrogen potency of combination oral contraceptives and endometrial cancer risk. Gynecologic Oncology, 2006, 103(2), 535.
- Schindler, A.E. Progestrogen deficiency and endometrial cancer risk. Maturitas, 2009, 62(4), 334.
- Setiawan, V.W., et al. Racial/ethnic differences in endometrial cancer risk: the multiethnic cohort study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2007, 165(3), 262-270.
Setiawan, V.W., et al. Germ line variation at 8q24 and endometrial cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, 2007, 16(10), 2166-2168.
- Terry, K., et al. MDM2 SNP309 is associated with endometrial cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, 2008, 17(4), 983-986.
- Thomas, C.C., et al. Endometrial cancer risk among younger, overweight women. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2009, 114(1), 22-27.
Weiderpass, E., et al. Organochlorines and endometrial cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Cancer Risk, 2000, 9(5), 487-494.
- Xu, X.O., et al. Animal food intake and cooling methods in relation to endometrial cancer risk in Shanghai. British Journal of Cancer, 2006, 95(11), 1586-1592.
- 1. National Institutes of Health. Endometrial Cancer. Causes and Risks. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000910.htm
- 2. American Cancer Society. Risk Factors for Endometrial Cancer.
- 3. American Society of Clinical Oncology Uterine/Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention. http://www.cancer.net/patient/Cancer+Types/Uterine+Cancer?sectionTitle=Risk%20Factors%20and%20Prevention
- 4. Mayo Clinic. Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/endometrial-cancer/DS00306/DSECTION=risk-factors
- 5. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors. http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/13172.cfm
- 6. Abramson Cancer Center (U of PA) Endometrial Cancer. http://www.oncolink.org/types/section.cfm?c=6&s=18.
- 7. National Institutes of Health. Endometrial Cancer. Causes and Risks. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000910.htm
- 8. American Society of Clinical Oncology Uterine/Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention. http://www.cancer.net/patient/Cancer+Types/Uterine+Cancer?sectionTitle=Risk%20Factors%20and%20Prevention
- 9. American Society of Clinical Oncology Uterine/Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention. http://www.cancer.net/patient/Cancer+Types/Uterine+Cancer?sectionTitle=Risk%20Factors%20and%20Prevention
- 10. Mayo Clinic. Endometrial Cancer Symptoms. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/endometrial-cancer/DS00306/DSECTION=symptoms