- posted 15 years ago
Alcohol's Link to Cancer
Two types of research link alcohol and cancer. Epidemiologic research has shown a dose-dependent association between alcohol consumption and certain types of cancer; as alcohol consumption increases, so does risk of developing certain cancers. More tenuous results have come from research into the mechanism by which alcohol could contribute to cancer development.
The strongest link between alcohol and cancer involves cancers of the upper digestive tract, including the esophagus, the mouth, the pharynx, and the larynx (3). Less consistent data link alcohol consumption and cancers of the liver, breast, and colon (3).
Upper digestive tract. Chronic heavy drinkers have a higher incidence of esophageal cancer than does the general population. The risk appears to increase as alcohol consumption increases (4-6). An estimated 75 percent of esophageal cancers in the United States are attributable to chronic, excessive alcohol consumption (7).
Nearly 50 percent of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx are associated with heavy drinking (7). People who drink large quantities of alcohol over time have an increased risk of these cancers as compared with abstainers (8,9). If they drink and smok e, the increase in risk is even more dramatic (5,6).