Thyroid Cancer Risk Reduced by Drinking Alcohol in Moderation

I. Drinking Alcohol Reduces Thyroid Cancer Risk

Doctors made a country-wide population-based case-control study in New Caledonia. Both men and women who drank alcohol had a lower thyroid cancer risk.


I.   Reduces Risk

II.  Major Risk Factors

III. Possible Symptoms

IV.  Resources

V.   References on Thyroid               Cancer

VI.  References on Risk

Data from almost one-half million (490,000) men and women found that increased drinking decreased the risk of thyroid cancer.

Similarly, doctors studied women in the Cancer Surveillance System (CSS). It’s a cancer registry in Washington State. Higher levels of alcohol consumption led to lower chance of developing thyroid cancer.

Doctors studied over one and one-quarter million (1,280,296) women in the U.K. They followed them for an average of over seven years. Their study independently confirmed that drinking alcohol is protective of thyroid cancer.

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common form of thyroid cancer. It makes up about 80% of all such cancers.  Researchers compared 410 women with papillary thyroid cancer with 574 similar women without the disease. Drinking alcohol greatly reduced the chance of getting papillary thyroid cancer.

Finally, researchers analyzed the results of 33 studies on the subject. They found that drinking alcohol was highly and consistently associated with lower chance of getting thyroid cancer. 

In addition, they also analyzed by type of thyroid cancer, level of alcohol drinking, sex, and rigor of study. Each showed drinking alcohol to be strongly associated with decreased chance of getting thyroid cancer.

Alcohol may protect the thyroid by helping it regulate the rate at which it releases hormones into the body. This may prevent any dangerous buildup in the gland.

II. Major Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors

These things increase the chance of developing thyroid cancer.

  • Being female (increases risk almost three times)thyroid cancer risk
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Being 45 years of age or older
  • Personal history of thyroid lumps
  • Family history of thyroid cancer
  • Family history of goiters or colon polyps

III. Possible Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

Early thyroid cancer often has no symptoms. But as the cancer grows, symptoms may include these.

  • A lump in the front of the neck
  • Hoarseness or voice changes
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Pain in the throat or neck that does not go away

These symptoms are not usually due to cancer. However, anyone with symptoms that do not disappear within two weeks should see a doctor.

See Also

Drinking Alcohol & Cancer Risk

Alcohol & Health: Medical Findings

Drinking alcoholic beverages reduces the chance of developing thyroid cancer. In addition, moderate alcohol drinking leads to better health and longer life. That’s in comparison to abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.

How do beer, wine and distilled spirits compare for health and long life? No form of alcoholic beverage has greater health or longevity benefits than any other.

IV. Resources on Thyroid Cancer

Biersack. H., and Grunwald, F. Thyroid Cancer. NY: Springer, 2005.

Braunstein, G. Thyroid Cancer. NY: Springer, 2012.

Lippman, F., et al. Thyroid. Ft. Lauderdale: Nova Southeastern U, 2008.

Nat Cancer Inst.  Thyroid Cancer. Bethesda: The Inst, 2012.

Vanderpump, M., et al. Thyroid Disease. NY: Oxford U Press, 2008.

Wang, T., and Evans, D. Medullary Thyroid Cancer. NY: Springer, 2016.

V. Reference

What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?

VI. Resources

Allen, N., et al. Moderate alcohol intake and cancer. J Nat Cancer Inst, 2009, 101(5), 296-305.

Colditz, G. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Cancer and Society. Los Angeles: Sage, 2007.

Guignard, R., et al. Alcohol drinking, tobacco smoking, and other characteristics as risk factors for thyroid cancer. Am J Epid, 2007, 166(10), 1140-1149.

Hong, S. et al. Acohol intake and risk of thyroid Cancer. Cancer Res Treat, 2016. doi: 10.4143/crt.2016.161.

Mack, W., et al. A pooled analysis of case-control studies of thyroid cancer. Cigarette smoking, and consumption of alcohol, coffee, and tea. Cancer Cause & Cont, 2003, 14(8), 773-785.

Meinhold, C., et al. Alcohol intake and risk of thyroid cancer. Brit J Cancer, 2009, 101(9), 1630-1634.


Remember, this site gives no health advice. Always consult a doctor for advice.