Alcohol and Cancer Incidence

The burden of cancer attributable to current and former alcohol consumption was estimated using information from eight European countries participating in the EPIC study. Under the assumption that the observed associations were causal, among men and women, respectively, 10% (95% confidence interval [CI], 7—13%) and 3% (95% CI, 1—5%) of the incidence of total cancer was attributable to former and current alcohol consumption. For selected cancers, the figures were 44% (95% CI, 31—56%) and 25% (95% CI, 5—46%) for upper aerodigestive tract, 33% (95% CI, 11—54%) and 18% (95% CI, —3% to 38%) for liver, 17% (95% CI, 10—25%) and 4% (95% CI, —1% to 10%) for colorectal cancer for men and women, respectively, and 5.0% (95% CI, 2—8%) for female breast cancer. A substantial part of the alcohol-attributable fraction in 2008 was associated with alcohol consumption higher than the recommended upper limit. The study showed that in western Europe, an important proportion of cases of cancer can be attributable to alcohol consumption, especially consumption higher than the recommended upper limit.

Schütze M et al. Alcohol attributable burden of incidence of cancer in eight European countries based on results from prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2011 Apr 7;342:d1584. PMID: 21474525