Download &
print (pdf)


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 intolerance:

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.

Previous article:
Metabolism & Digestive System
Next article:
Women’s Health

Print entire newsletter