Are drinking alcohol and dying risk from cancer connected? We know that heavy alcohol drinking is linked with increased risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx. We also know and that moderate drinking is linked with a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer.
On the other hand, we also know that moderate drinking is linked with reduced risk of thyroid cancer. Also lymphoma, kidney, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin cancers.
Researchers wanted to know the link between alcohol and dying risk of from cancer. To do this, they made an analysis of 18 cohort studies. These studies all followed people over time. During those periods, almost 50,000 people died from different causes..
This enabled the researchers to compare those who died from cancer with those who didn’t. One of the many things they looked at was drinking. Thus, they were able to place people into different drinking levels.
I. Drinkers who had up to about one drink per day. They called these “light drinkers.” However, U.S. federal guidelines would call drinking at that level by women moderate drinking. Men who are moderate drinkers could have two daily drinks.
These drinkers had a 9% lower risk of dying from cancer. That’s compared non-drinkers or occasional drinkers.
II. Drinkers who had up to about four and one-third drinks per day. The researchers called these moderate drinkers. U.S. guidelines would call these men heavy drinkers or alcohol abusers.
These drinkers had no increase in risk.
III. Drinkers who had over about four and one-third drinks per day. The researchers called these heavy drinkers. They had a higher risk than non-drinkers or occasional drinkers.
Thus, this study found an increase in all-cancer mortality. But it was only among those who had over about four and one-third drinks per day. Of course, that’s much, much higher that US federal guidelines.
Resources: Alcohol and Dying Risk from Cancer
- Duhig, H. Understanding Cancer. (Juv)
- Eating Hints: Before, During and after Cancer Treatment.
- Scotting, P., et al. Cancer.
- Sessions, R. The Cancer Experience: the Doctor, the Patient, the Journey.
- When Your Parent has Cancer. Guide for Teens.
- When Someone You Love Has Advanced Cancer.
- Jin, M. et al. Alcohol drinking and all-cancer mortality. Ann Oncol, 24, 807-816.