This study found that alcohol consumption was associated with increased risk of cancer in the upper aerodigestive tract, mouth and pharynx, esophagus, colorectum, colon, liver and breast. Further alcohol use pattern may be independently related to breast cancer risk.

The results add to the growing body of science establishing alcohol’s link to cancer and informs public health policies to reduce cancer risk.


Peter Sarich, Karen Canfell, Sam Egger, Emily Banks, Grace Joshy, Paul Grogan and Marianne F. Weber


Sarich, P., Canfell, K., Egger, S. et al. Alcohol consumption, drinking patterns and cancer incidence in an Australian cohort of 226,162 participants aged 45 years and over. Br J Cancer (2020).

British Journal of Cancer
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Alcohol Consumption, Drinking Patterns and Cancer Incidence in an Australian Cohort of 226,162 Participants Aged 45 Years and Over



Although overall alcohol consumption is known to increase the risk of a number of cancers internationally, evidence for Australia and evidence regarding the pattern of alcohol use and cancer risk is limited.


Adjusted hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for cancer risk in relation to overall alcohol consumption (units/week) and pattern of alcohol use were calculated using Cox proportional hazard regressions for 226,162 participants aged ≥45 years (2006–2009) in the 45 and Up Study, an Australian prospective cohort study. Incident primary cancer cases were ascertained by linkage to the New South Wales Cancer Registry to 2013 by the Centre for Health Record Linkage.


Over a median of 5.4 years, 17,332 cancers were diagnosed. Increasing levels of alcohol intake were associated with increased risk of cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (1.19; 1.10–1.29), mouth and pharynx (1.18; 1.08–1.29), esophagus (1.22; 1.04–1.43), colorectum (1.09; 1.04–1.15), colon (1.13; 1.06–1.20), liver (1.22; 1.04–1.44) and breast (1.11; 1.02–1.21). Breast cancer risk was marginally associated with alcohol use pattern, with higher risk when intake was concentrated on 1–3 days/week compared to the same amount spread over 4–7 days (Pinteraction = 0.049).


Alcohol consumption confers a significant risk of cancer, and alcohol use pattern may be independently related to breast cancer risk.

Source Website: Nature