Study: Daily Alcohol Drink Shortens Life and Ups Cancer Death Risk

sangriaDrinking a couple glasses of wine or any alcohol beverage every day may increase the risk of dying from cancer and shorten your life by almost two decades, suggests a new study.

The study was published yesterday in the online issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

For the study, researchers looked at recent U.S. data on cancer mortality and two large surveys on alcohol consumption. They used analysis of the literature linking alcohol consumption to cancer risk to determine risk of mortality. The scientists calculated the average number of standard alcoholic drinks (14 grams of alcohol) consumed per day.

The investigators focused their analysis on the seven cancers linked to alcohol consumption: oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colorectum, and female breast cancer.

Using two different methods, they estimated that alcohol caused on average 19,500 cancer deaths each year, which accounts for approximately 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. Cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, and esophagus were the most common forms of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths for men, accounting for approximately 4,000-8,400 cancer deaths annually. Continue reading


Alcohol Ups Colorectal Cancer Risk: Family Matters

The research showing that alcohol increases the risk of colorectal cancer is clear. But now a large new study suggests that people who have a family history of colorectal cancer may be especially susceptible to the effects of alcohol increasing their risk of the cancer.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and you can read the abstract here. (One of the authors, Harvard University researcher Edward Giovannucci, spoke at last year’s AICR Research Conference.)

In the study, researchers looked at alcohol consumption patterns among approximately 135,000 men and women, starting in 1980 (for the women) and 1986 (for the men). Every few years the participants answered questionnaires about how much alcohol they drank and reported whether they had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

After following the participants through 2006, the study first looked at the whole population. It found that those who drank the most alcohol — over 30 grams of alcohol per day on average, which is about 2 drinks – had an increased risk of colon cancer when compared to those who didn’t drink any alcohol. Continue reading


Teen Habits and Future Cancer Risk

Today’s issue of Cancer Research Update looks at how what teens eat, drink and weigh may influence their future cancer risk.  The story focuses on girls’ lifestyle habits and future breast cancer risk and the research is intriguing, but just emerging. Some of the strongest evidence relates to drinking alcohol.

This topic is part of a bigger picture in research on cancer risk, where scientists look at risk over a person’s life course. The hypothesis is that many cancers can take years – often decades – to develop and along the way, there are certain times when our diet and other lifestyle habits can prevent or push it along.

A few of the studies investigating this topic are funded by AICR; check back to see their findings.