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Alcohol and ovarian cancer risk
The authors conclude that this pooled analysis does not support an association between moderate alcohol intake and ovarian cancer risk.

It has been suggested that alcohol may promote ovarian cancer by its potential to increase circulating levels of estrogen and other hormones; through its oxidation by product, acetaldehyde, which may act as a co-carcinogen; and by depletion of folate and other nutrients. Case-control and cohort studies have reported conflicting results relating alcohol intake to ovarian cancer risk.

The authors of a recent study published in the UK journal ‘Cancer’ conducted a pooled analysis of the primary data from ten prospective cohort studies. The analysis included 529,638 women among whom 2,001 incident epithelial ovarian cases were documented. After study-specific relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated by Cox proportional hazards models, and then were pooled using a random effects model, no associations were observed for intakes of total alcohol (pooled multivariate RR = 1.12, 95% CI 0.86–1.44 comparing e” 30 to 0 g/day of alcohol) or alcohol from wine, beer or spirits and ovarian cancer risk. The association with alcohol consumption was not modified by oral contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy, parity, menopausal status, folate intake, body mass index, or smoking. Associations for endometrioid, mucinous, and serous ovarian cancer were similar to the overall findings.

The authors have combined results from 10 prospective studies for a pooled analysis (rather than a meta-analysis) to evaluate the relation of alcohol intake to the risk of ovarian cancer. The previous individual results had led to suggestions of slight increases or slight decreases in the risk of ovarian cancer with alcohol consumption, so the combination of results into a pooled analysis is particularly useful. In the combined results, for 5 – 14.9 g/d (up to a little over one drink, the recommend level for women) the RR was 0.96; even at more than 30 g/day, the RR was only 1.12, and not statistically significant. Further, there was no evidence of a trend for increasing risk of cancer for increasing alcohol consumption; results were similar for each type of beverage. Also, unlike breast cancer, there was apparently no effect on risk from levels of folate intake.

Article: Genkinger JM, et al Alcohol intake and ovarian cancer risk: a pooled analysis of 10 cohort studies. Brit J Cancer 2006;94:757 – 762.

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