Page last updated: June 3, 2016
Associations of alcohol use disorders – an increase of risk for esophageal and a significant decrease in risk of gastric cancers

Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus, but little is known about whether alcohol consumption is associated with adenocarcinoma of the esophagus or gastric cancer, which the authors attempt to clarify in this study.

Individuals with alcohol use disorders (excessive drinkers) were identified from the nation-wide Swedish Hospital Discharge Register and Outpatient Register, the Crime Register, and the Prescription Drug Register, and they were linked to the Swedish Cancer Registry to calculate standardised incidence ratios of esophageal and gastric cancers using those without alcohol use disorders (AUDs) as a reference.

A total of 14 518 were diagnosed with esophageal and 73 504 patients with gastric cancers, separately, during the study period. The risk of esophageal cancer was significantly increased, with a standardised incidence ratio of 2.24 (95% confidence interval 2.08- 2.41) among individuals with high AUDIT scores. Both squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus were also increased (2.89 for squamous cell carcinoma and 1.20 for adenocarcinoma). However, the incidence of gastric cancer was significantly decreased and the decrease was even more prominant for corpus cancer compared with cardia cancer (0.57 vs. 0.82).

To conclude, the authors found that heavy drinkers were associated with an increased risk of both squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, but had a significantly lower risk of gastric cancer, especially for corpus cancer, which may be related to the eradication of Helicobacter pylori infection by alcohol. However, the underlying mechanisms need to be explored in future studies.

Source: Associations of alcohol use disorders – and increase of risk for esophageal and a significant decrease in risk of gastric cancers: a population-based study in Sweden. Ji J, Sundquist J, Sundquist K. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2016 Feb 16.

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