[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Views 24,984
Citations 0
Viewpoint
December 13, 2019

Alcohol and Cancer Risk: Clinical and Research Implications

Author Affiliations
  • 1Behavioral Research Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland
  • 2Healthcare Delivery Research Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland
  • 3Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA. 2020;323(1):23-24. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.19133

Ample evidence has been available for some time indicating that alcohol use is a preventable risk factor for cancer, and the World Health Organization deemed alcohol a carcinogen more than 30 years ago. In the United States, it is estimated that 5.6% of incident cancer cases (approximately 87 000 each year) are associated with alcohol, including cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, liver, esophagus (squamous cell carcinoma), female breast, and colorectum.1 Type of alcohol does not appear to matter; all alcoholic beverages include ethanol, which increases levels of acetaldehyde and in turn promotes DNA damage. Moreover, even moderate levels of consumption (often defined as approximately 14-28 g/d, the equivalent of about 1-2 drinks) appear to be associated with higher risk of some cancers, including cancers of the female breast.2 A protective association has emerged for some cancers, with the most evidence for kidney, Hodgkin lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.2 Nonetheless, the overall cancer burden associated with alcohol use is substantial and comparable with that of other preventable risk factors such as UV exposure and excess body weight.

Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words
    ×