Are drinking alcohol and pancreatic cancer related? In a word, no. Alcohol does not increase the risk of developing cancer of the pancreas.
I. Alcohol and Pancreatic Cancer
Medical opinion is that drinking alcohol is not a risk for cancer of the pancreas. That’s the judgment of the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Health, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Also the American Cancer Society, Cancer Research UK, and the the Pancreatic Research Center at Johns Hopkins University. And the list goes on and on.
Many of the research studies have been very large.
For example, in one, investigators examined 478,400 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Researchers followed them for an average of about nine years. They found no association between alcohol consumption and the risk of pancreatic cancer.
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Similarly, doctors in the U.S. followed 136,593 men and women for a period of 12 to 16 years. They found that consuming two or more alcoholic drinks per day did not increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. That was in comparison to those who did not drink any alcohol. Two or more drinks per day is over twice the U.S. government recommended limit for women.
Drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for getting pancreatic cancer. On the other hand, the moderate consumption of alcohol leads to better health and longer life. That’s in comparison to either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.
II. Moderate Drinking
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has described drinking in moderation. For a man it’s consuming four drinks on any day and an average of 14 drinks per week. For women, it is 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
- 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
- shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits such as vodka, tequila, or rum, etc.
Standard drinks have the same amount of alcohol. That is, 0.06 of an ounce of pure alcohol. To a breathalyzer, they’re all the same.
No form of alcoholic beverage has greater health benefits than any other. That is, beer, wine, and distilled spirits are equally good for health.
Books/video for patients and/or caregivers.
- O’Reilly, E. and Kelvin, J. 100 Questions & Answers about Pancreatic Cancer. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2010.
- Ahuja, N. and Coleman, J. Johns Hopkins Patients’ Guide to Pancreatic Cancer. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2012.
- Cancer Council. Understanding Pancreatic Cancer. You are not Alone. A Guide for People Facing a Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis. Sydney: Media One, 2010. DVD video.
- Lustgarten Found. Pancreatic Cancer Res. Understanding Pancreatic Cancer. A Guide for Patients and Caregivers. Bethpage, NY: The Foundation, 2007.
- American Cancer Society. Quickfacts Pancreatic Cancer. Independent, 2010.
- Le, D. Pancreatic Cancer. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U Press, 2011.
- Pancreatic Cancer: Who’s at Risk?
- Pancreatic Cancer.
- What Causes Pancreatic Cancer?
- Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
- Ahlgren, J. Risk factors in pancreatic cancer. Sem Onc, 1996, 23(2), 241-250.
- Genkinger, J. et al. Alcohol intake and pancreatic cancer risk: a pooled analysis of fourteen cohort studies. Cancer Epi, Biomark Prev, 2009, 18(3), 765.
- Go, V. et al. Alcohol and pancreatic cancer. Alcohol, 2015, 35(3), 205-211.
- Hassan, M. et al. Risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Am J Gastro, 2017, 102(12), 2696-2707.
- Heinen, M. et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer. Am J Epi, 2009, 169(10), 1233-1240.
- Jiao, L. et al. Alcohol Use and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer. Am J Epi, 2009, 169(9), 1043-1051.
- Lin, Y. et al. Risk of pancreatic cancer in relation to alcohol drinking, coffee consumption and medical history. Int J Cancer, 2012, 95(5), 742-746.
- Michaud, D. et al. Coffee and Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer. Cancer Epi, Biomark Pre, 2011, 10, 429-437.
- Rohrmann, S. et al. Ethanol intake and the risk of pancreatic cancer. Cancer Cause Con, 2009, 20(5), 785-794.
- Villeneuve, P. et al. Alcohol, tobacco and coffee consumption and the risk of pancreatic cancer. Eur J Cancer Pre, 2000, 9(1), 49-58.
- Ye, W., et al. Alcohol abuse and the risk of pancreatic cancer. Gut, 2012, 51, 236-239.