Page last updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Drinking, smoking and Oesophageal cancer
A recent study, 'Independent and Joint effects of Tobacco smoking and Alcohol drinking on the risk of oesophageal cancer in men and women ' has been published in the International Journal of Cancer (1999,82,657-64). The research concludes that moderate drinking without smoking has a negligible effect on the risk of cancer of the oesophagus (gullet). However, little previous research had investigated the risks involved in combining drinking and smoking.

The research, believed to be the most detailed study undertaken to date, was conducted from an analysis of five different surveys in four countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) and covering 830 cases of oesophageal cancer, plus 1,600 control subjects for comparison.

Researchers were able to assess very detailed information regarding types and amounts of alcoholic drinks and the cigarettes the cancer patients used, as well as the patterns and frequency of use. the same information was garnered from the control patients.

There was little or no increase for non-smokers who drank under 6 units (8g) a day, or for non drinkers who smoked less than 8 cigarettes a day. Elevated risks were associated with heavy use of alcohol or tobacco, and especially high risks were recorded for those who combined drinking and smoking, even at moderate levels (12-fold increase for men and 19-fold among women) as compared with abstainers.

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