Alcohol and leukemia. Are they connected? There is medical agreement that alcohol is not a risk factor for leukemia (leukaemia). Organizations have analyzed the medical research on alcohol and leukemia. Consequently, they have concluded that drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for leukemia.
- Forms of Leukemia
- Not Only among Children
- Moderate Drinking
Among many others, these professional groups include the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I. Forms of Leukemia
More specifically, alcohol consumption is not a risk factor for any of the various forms of leukemia:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) The most common form of leukemia in young children but also affects adults, especially those age 65 and older.
- Acute myleoid leukemia (AML) This form of leukemia occurs most often in adults. The five-year survival rate is 40%,
- B-cell leukemia (B-PLL) This is a more aggressive, but still treatable, form of leukemia that has a poor prognosis.
- Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia This is the most common type of childhood cancer.
- Childhood myeloid leukemia This is the second most common form of leukemia in children.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) This incurable leukemia occurs most often among those over age 55.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) This form of leukemia is rare among children. It occurs with about equal frequency among male and female adults.
- Eosinophilic leukemia This form of leukemia is rare.
- Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) About 80% of HCL victims are adult men. Although incurable, the ten year survival rate of this slow growing leukemia is very high.
- Plasma cell leukemia (PCL) This is a rare leukemia largely found among adult males.
- T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) This is a very rare and aggressive leukemia affecting adults. The median survival is measured in months
II. Not Only among Children
- Drinking and Women’s Health
- Alcohol and Total Death Risk among Women
- Moderate Drinking Improves Quality of Life among Women
- Alcohol and Breast Cancer: Important Health Facts to Save Your Life
- Folate, Alcohol & Breast Cancer Risk
- Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy
- Alcohol and Health: Medical Findings for Health and Long Life.
Leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. The most common form of the disease in young people is acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It’s also called acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute lymphoid leukemia. However, leukemia also occurs among adults. So it’s not only a “childhood disease.”
Drinking alcohol in moderation is not a risk factor for developing leukemia. On the other hand, the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health and greater longevity. That’s in comparison to either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.
III. Moderate Drinking
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has described drinking in moderation. It’s a man having four drinks on any day with an average of 14 drinks per week. For a woman, it’s having three drinks in any one day with an average of seven drinks per week.
A standard alcoholic drink is:
- One 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
- A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
- One shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits such as vodka, tequila, or rum.
Standard drinks all contain 0.6 ounce of alcohol. To a breathalyzer, they’re all the same.
No form of alcohol gives greater health benefits than another. So beer, wine, and liquor (distilled spirits) appear equal in this regard.
IV. Resources: Alcohol and Leukemia
Popular Books on Leukemia
- Abramovitz, M. Leukemia. Detroit: Lucent, 2010. (Elemen and junior high)
- American Cancer Society. Leukemia. Atlanta: The Society , 2011.
- Ball, E. and Kagan, A. 100 Questions & Answers about Leukemia. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2013.
- Shannon, J. Leukemia Sourcebook. Basic Consumer Health Information about Adult and Childhood Leukemia. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2003.
- Keene, N. Childhood Leukemia. A Guide for Families, Friends & Caregivers. Beijing: O’Reilly, 2010.
- Klosterman, L. Leukemia. NY: Marshall, 2006.
- Landier, W. and Hartrum, H. Coping with Childhood Leukemia. White Plains, NY: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 2012.
- Liesveld, J. La Leucemia. White Plains, NY: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 2012.
- Morrison, C. and Hesdorffer, C. Johns Hopkins Patients’ Guide to Leukemia. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2011.
- National Cancer Institute. What You Need to Know about Leukemia. Bethesda: U.S. HHS, 2013.
- Smith, S. Leukemia. Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Diagnosis, Treatments, Stages of Leukemia. Bethesda: U.S. HHS, 2012.
Scientific Readings on Alcohol and Leukemia Risk
- Brown, L., et al. Alcohol and leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma risk. Leukem Res, 1992, 169(10), 979-984.
- Gorini, G., et al. Alcohol and leukemi risk. Leukem Res, 2007, 31(3), 379-386.
- Infante-Rivard, C. and El-Zein, M. Parental alcohol consumption and childhood cancers: a review. J Tox Environ, Part B, 2007, 10(1 & 2), 101-129.
- Pogoda, J., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of adult-onset acute myeloid leukemia. Leukem Res, 2004, 28(9), 927-931.
- Rauscher, G., et al. Alcohol intake and incidence of de novo adult acute leukemia. Leukem Res, 2004, 28(12), 1263-1265.
- Shu, X-O., et al. Parental alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and risk of infant leukemia. A Children’s Cancer Group study. J Nat Cancer Inst, 1996, 88(1), 24.
References for Alcohol and Leukemia
Note: This website is informational only. It does not provide any recommendations or advice about alcohol and leukemia.