Page last updated: December 4, 2018
Alcohol consumption and the risk of thyroid cancer

Studies examining the association between alcohol consumption and thyroid cancer risk have had inconsistent findings, in part due to varying types and amounts of alcohol consumption, incomplete information on confounders, and variations in genetic susceptibility in study populations.

A study published online as part of the part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1032) analysed data from a population-based casecontrol study in Connecticut in 2010-2011 including 462 histologically confirmed incident thyroid cancer cases and 498 population-based controls. Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate associations between alcohol consumption and risk of thyroid cancer. Potential confounding variables were age, gender, race, education, body mass index, family history of cancer among first-degree relatives, history of benign thyroid disease, smoking status, and physical activity.

Ever consumption of alcohol was associated with a reduced risk of thyroid cancer (OR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.54-0.95). The younger age at initiation and increasing duration of alcohol consumption were also associated with a reduced risk of thyroid cancer in a dose-dependent manner. Compared to people who never drank alcohol, those who drank alcohol for >31 years were 50% less likely to develop thyroid cancer (OR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.32- 0.80). Alcohol consumption was associated with a reduced risk of papillary thyroid cancer (OR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.49-0.88) and thyroid cancer with lager tumour size (>1 cm), but no significant association was found between alcohol consumption and non-papillary thyroid cancer or thyroid micro carcinoma. Analyses stratified by specific subtypes of alcohol demonstrated an inverse association for beer (OR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.49-0.96) and wine consumption (OR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.53-0.96) as compared to participants who never consumed alcohol, but no significant association was found for liquor consumption (OR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.53- 1.04).

The study findings suggest an inverse association (protective effect) between beer and wine consumption and risk of thyroid cancer. Future mechanistic study is warranted to elucidate the underlying mechanisms, the authors comment.

Source: Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Thyroid Cancer: A Population Based Case-Control Study in Connecticut. Huang H, Zhao N, Chen Y, Deziel N, Dai M, Li N, Udelsman R, Zhang Y. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2018;1032:1-
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