Page last updated: March 8, 2017February 15, 2019
Alcohol consumption and lung cancer risk

There is inadequate evidence to determine whether alcohol consumption has an effect of on lung cancer risk. A research team conducted a pooled analysis of data from the International Lung Cancer Consortium and the SYNERGY study to investigate this possible association by type of beverage with adjustment for other potential confounders.

Twenty one case-control studies and one cohort study with alcohol-intake data obtained from questionnaires were included in a pooled analysis (19,149 cases and 362,340 controls). Adjusted odds ratios (OR) or hazard ratios (HR) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated for each measure of alcohol consumption. Effect estimates were combined using random or fixedeffects models where appropriate. Associations were examined for overall lung cancer and by histological type.

The researchers observed an inverse association (a protective effect) between overall risk of lung cancer and consumption of alcoholic beverages compared to non-drinkers, but the association was not monotonic. The lowest risk was observed for persons who consumed 10-19.9 g/day ethanol (OR vs. non-drinkers = 0.78; 95% CI: 0.67, 0.91), where 1 drink is approximately 12-15 g. This J-shaped association was most prominent for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The association with all lung cancer varied little by type of alcoholic beverage, but there were notable differences for SCC. An association with beer intake was observed (OR for ≥20 g/day vs non drinker = 1.42; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.90).

The researchers suggest further analyses and insights about possible biological mechanisms might shed light on whether the non-monotonic associations or the positive association between beer drinking and squamous cell carcinoma reflect real effects.

Source: Alcohol consumption and lung cancer risk: A pooled analysis from the International Lung Cancer Consortium and the SYNERGY study. Brenner DR, Fehringer G, Zhang ZF, Lee YA, Meyers T, Matsuo K, et al. Cancer Epidemiol. 2018 Nov 13;58:25-32. .
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