Page last updated: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Alcohol and pancreatic cancer risk
Men and women who consume more that 30g alcohol a day may increase their risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Unlike previous studies, the research pools data collected prospectively from 14 research studies, which included 862,664 individuals (319,716 men and 542,948 women). Data collected prospectively means information about dietary and environmental exposures were collected prior to diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. Researchers identified 2,187 individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during the study.

“This is one of the largest studies ever to look at dietary factors in relation to pancreatic cancer risk,” says lead author Jeanine M. Genkinger, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

If individuals consumed 30 or more grams of alcohol per day (approximately three drinks), compared with no alcohol per day, their risk of pancreatic cancer increased by 20%. Although, there was no statistically significant difference between men and women when comparing alcohol intake with risk of pancreatic cancer, the association was seen in women at two or more drinks per day. Comparatively, the researchers observed a higher risk among men who consumed three or more drinks a day.

If individuals consumed 30 or more grams of alcohol per day, compared with no alcohol per day, their risk of pancreatic cancer increased by 22 percent. No difference was observed by type of alcohol.

“Despite being a deadly disease, there are few known risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer,” explains Genkinger. “At this point, it’s important to understand any protective or risk factors for this dangerous disease even if the risks are weak or modest.”

Source: ‘The Complete Guide - Nutrition and Physical Activity.’ Genkinger, J.M. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, March 2009; vol 18: pp 765-776.

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