Page last updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Drinking Doesn't Appear to Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
New research suggests that drinking alcohol does not increase the risk of bladder cancer. In fact, the investigators found that beer may reduce the risk, according to a report in the September 15th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Previous studies have yielded conflicting results regarding the link between alcohol and bladder cancer. While most studies have not shown an association, other studies have revealed a possible link.

Dr. Luc Djousse, from Boston University, and colleagues addressed the issue by analyzing data from 10,125 subjects enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study. For each subject who developed bladder cancer during follow-up, the researchers selected five study participants who did not develop bladder cancer, but who were similar for other risk factors.

During an average follow-up period of 27 years, 126 subjects developed bladder cancer.

Total alcohol consumption was not significantly associated with bladder cancer risk nor was drinking wine or spirits in particular. In contrast, beer seemed to reduce the risk. Subjects who consumed more than four drinks of beer per week were 50 percent less likely to develop the malignancy than were non-drinkers.

As to why the present findings differ from previous reports, the authors note that differences in the number of participants who had other risk factors for bladder cancer — heavy drinking or smoking — may have played a role.

The results support previous studies showing no link between alcohol intake and bladder cancer, the researchers conclude. Further research, however, is needed to confirm that beer really has a protective effect, they add.

Source: Luc Djoussé et al. Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Bladder Cancer in the Framingham Heart Study. J Natl Cancer Inst 2004;96:1397-400.

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