Comparative Risk Assessment of Carcinogens in Alcoholic Beverages Using the Margin of Exposure
Approach International J of Cancer 121 (6) September 2012 A study comparing the different carcinogenic
substances in alcohol beverages including above-trace levels of arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde and lead
among a total of fifteen that were identified. The margin of exposure approach was used for comparative risk
assessment. Ethanol has the highest concentration of any carcinogenic substance. The study found that light
to moderate drinkers are at little risk for cancer but there is a risk above four or more drinks per day. The risk
of cancer in humans is three and a half times greater in those who drink four or more drinks per day. The
authors believe there is not enough evidence to conclude red wine is less carcinogenic than any other alcoholic
beverage. They recommend focusing on reducing alcohol consumption in general rather than on mitigating
measures for some contaminants that contribute to a limited extent if at all to total health risk.
A Meta-Analysis of Alcohol Drinking and Oral and Pharyngeal Cancers: Results from Subgroup
Analyses Alcohol and Alcoholism 48 (1) Jan/Feb 2013 A review of all case-control and cohort studies
published until September 2010. The association between alcohol and oral and pharyngeal cancers (OPC) risk
was similar in men and women and type of alcoholic beverage. Among never and non-current smokers, the
pooled relative risks were 1.32 for drinking and 2.54 for heavy drinking. There is a stronger association
between alcohol and OPC in smokers than nonsmokers.
Decreased Oral Cancer Risk by Moderate Alcohol Consumption in Non-Smoker Postmenopausal
Women Oral Oncology 47 June 2011 At low levels of alcohol consumption, men have a moderate risk of oral
cancer, whereas women have a reduced risk of developing oral cancer. At higher levels of alcohol
consumption, both men and women showed increased risk for oral cancer.
UK Change4Life launched alcohol advertisements on television in 2012 because drinking too much is a major
public health issue in the UK. The ad campaign emphasized the link between excessive drinking and disease,
warning that drinking two large glasses of wine triples the risk of developing mouth cancer, doubles the risk of
high blood pressure, and increases the risk of other forms of cancer. Change4Life urges citizens to follow
government guidelines which say men should drink a maximum of 3 to 4 alcohol units per day and women
normore than 2 or 3 units (the English standard drink unit is smaller than the US unit).
Alcohol Drinking, Tobacco Smoking and Subtypes of Hematological Malignancy in the UK Million
Women Study Brit J Cancer 107 August 2012 Alcohol consumptions lowers the risk of several types of
lymphoma and plasma cell neoplasms, but has little effect on the risk of myeloid tumors such as acute myeloid
leukemia. Smoking is associated with an increased risk for most such cancers.
Time Pattern of Reduction in Risk of Esophageal Cancer Following Alcohol Cessation - a Meta-
Analysis. Addiction 107 July 2012 A Swedish study showed that the alcohol related increased risk of
esophageal cancer is reversible following drinking cessation, most likely requiring up to 16 years. The authors
estimate that about 50% of reduction of risk of cancer may occur within 4 or 5 years. There were some
limitations of this study particularly as to adjustments for smoking.
Alcohol and Tobacco Lower the Age of Presentation in Sporadic Pancreatic Cancer is a Dose-
Dependent Manner: A Multicenter Study Amer J of Gastroenterology 107 August 28, 2012 A multicenter
study found that people who smoke or drink heavily are more prone to develop pancreatic cancer at an earlier
age (almost a decade earlier) than people who avoid those habits. Heavy drinking in the study was defined as
roughly three or more standard drinks a day.
Alcohol Intake and Renal Cell Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis Brit J Cancer 106 2012 April 19, 2012 This
analysis found that there is a lower risk of kidney cancer with as little as one drink per day with little further
reduction in risk for increasing amounts of alcohol consumption. The effect is seen in both men and women
and for beer, wine and liquor.
Alcohol Consumption and Colorectal Cancer in a Mediterranean Population: a Case-Control Study Dis
Colon Rectum 55 (6) June 2012. A Greek study of self-reporting patients with the first diagnosis of colorectal
cancer and controls from the community. Moderate alcohol intake (less than 12g a day or 1.5 drinks) is
associated with a significantly decreased likelihood of colon cancer in men and women. High alcohol intake
(more than 48 g a day) was associated with an increased likelihood in men but not women. Drinking red wine
was associated with reduced odds of colorectal cancer in men but not women. None of the associations
between other beverage types and colorectal cancer were significant. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet
was independently associated with lower odds of colorectal cancer.
244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society 2012 A presentation provided the first
evidence from humans on how alcohol may boost the risk of cancer. Ten volunteers were given increasing
doses of vodka (comparable to one, two and three drinks) once a week for three weeks. They found levels of a
key DNA adduct increased up to 100-fold in the subject’s oral cells within hours after each dose and adduct
levels in blood cells also rose. This tells us that alcohol is metabolized into acetaldehyde in the mouth, and the
acetaldehyde, chemically resembling formaldehyde which a known human carcinogen, is attaching to DNA,
forming DNA adducts which are carcinogenic. It is known that acetaldehyde can cause DNA damage and act
as an animal carcinogen. People of Asian descent are more at risk since at least 30% of them have a variant
of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene and are unable to properly metabolize acetaldehyde into acetate making
them more at risk for cancer. So-called “Oriental flushing” after alcohol consumption, a sign of alcohol
Cancer Prevention in Europe: The Mediterranean Diet as a Protective Choice Eur J Cancer Prev 22 (1)
January 2013 The Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The biological mechanisms for cancer prevention associated with the Mediterranean diet have been related to
the favorable effect of a balanced ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids and high amounts of fiber,
antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruit, vegetables, olive oil and wine. The Mediterranean diet involves
regular, moderate consumption of wine mainly with food. This does not appreciably influence the overall risk of
cancer. However, heavy alcohol drinking is associate with digestive, upper respiratory tract, liver and breast
cancers, so avoidance or restricting alcohol consumption to 2 drinks per day in men and 1 drink per day in
women is a global health priority.
Wine, Beer, Alcohol and Polyphenols on Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer Nutrients 4 (7) July 2012
A review that summarizes the main protective effects on the cardiovascular system and cancer resulting from
moderate wine and beer intake due mainly to their components of alcohol and polyphenols. Epidemiological
and clinical studies have pointed out that regular and moderate wine consumption is associated with a
decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, including
colon, basal cell, ovarian, and prostate. Moderate beer consumption has also been associated with these
effects, but to a lesser degree, probably because beer has a lower phenolic content. These health benefits
have mainly been attributed to an increase in antioxidant capacity, changes in lipid profiles, and the antiinflammatory
effects produced by these alcoholic beverages.