Generic placeholder image

Reviews on Recent Clinical Trials


ISSN (Print): 1574-8871
ISSN (Online): 1876-1038

Review Article

Light Alcohol Drinking and the Risk of Cancer Development: A Controversial Relationship

Author(s): Giuseppe G. Caprio, Desiree Picascia, Marcello Dallio*, Pietro P. Vitiello, Emilio F. Giunta, Vincenzo De Falco, Ludovico Abenavoli, Anna C. Procopio, Vincenzo Famiglietti, Erika Martinelli, Antonietta G. Gravina, Alessandro Federico, Fortunato Ciardiello, Carmelina Loguercio and Davide Ciardiello

Volume 15, Issue 3, 2020

Page: [164 - 177] Pages: 14

DOI: 10.2174/1574887115666200628143015

Price: $65


Background: In accordance with the scientific literature heavy alcohol consumption (>50g per day) represents a risk factor for several diseases development, including cancer. However, the oncogenic role of light alcohol drinking (<12.5g per day) is still unknown.

Objective: To assess the scientific knowledge about light alcohol consumption and the risk of malignancy onset.

Methods: To collect the scientific evidences regarding this topic the keywords “light alcohol drinking”, “light alcohol consumption” and “cancer”, were used. Papers published during the last 15 years were analyzed, in order to select the most recent evidence. Meta-analyses with well-defined levels of alcohol intake were included in the present review. Other studies that focused on biochemical, molecular and genetic aspects, as well as duplicate articles, were excluded.

Results: Twenty-nine large, meta-analyses were included in this review. Light alcohol drinking was not associated with an increased risk of cancer occurrence, with the exception of breast and prostate cancer and melanoma.

Furthermore, a possible protective role of light alcohol consumption on the development of bladder, kidney and ovarian cancer and Non Hodgkin Lymphoma was observed.

Conclusion: Light alcohol drinking was not associated with the development of several malignancies, except for a light increase of melanoma, breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

Keywords: Alcohol consumption, cancer, public health, cancer epidemiology, cell biology, carcinogenesis.

Graphical Abstract
World Health Organization. Global status report on alcohol and health Geneva: World Health Organization . 2014.
Working ARC. Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Personal habits and indoor combustions Volume 100 E A review of human carcinogens IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risks Hum 2012; 100(Pt E): 1-538.
Li Y, Mao Y, Zhang Y, et al. Alcohol drinking and upper aerodigestive tract cancer mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Oral Oncol 2014; 50(4): 269-75.
[] [PMID: 24405883]
Islami F, Tramacere I, Rota M, et al. Alcohol drinking and laryngeal cancer: Overall and dose-risk relation-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Oral Oncol 2010; 46(11): 802-10.
[] [PMID: 20833578]
Turati F, Galeone C, Rota M, et al. Alcohol and liver cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Ann Oncol 2014; 25(8): 1526-35.
[] [PMID: 24631946]
Tramacere I, Negri E, Pelucchi C, et al. A meta-analysis on alcohol drinking and gastric cancer risk. Ann Oncol 2012; 23(1): 28-36.
[] [PMID: 21536659]
Wang YT, Gou YW, Jin WW, Xiao M, Fang HY. Association between alcohol intake and the risk of pancreatic cancer: A dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. BMC Cancer 2016; 16: 212.
[] [PMID: 26968702]
Fedirko V, Tramacere I, Bagnardi V, et al. Alcohol drinking and colorectal cancer risk: An overall and dose-response meta-analysis of published studies. Ann Oncol 2011; 22(9): 1958-72.
[] [PMID: 21307158]
Longnecker MP, Berlin JA, Orza MJ, Chalmers TC. A meta-analysis of alcohol consumption in relation to risk of breast cancer. JAMA 1988; 260(5): 652-6.
[] [PMID: 3392790]
Zhao J, Stockwell T, Roemer A, Chikritzhs T. Is alcohol consumption a risk factor for prostate cancer? A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cancer 2016; 16(1): 845.
[] [PMID: 27842506]
Scoccianti C, Cecchini M, Anderson AS, et al. European code against cancer 4th edition: Alcohol drinking and cancer.Cancer Epidemiol 2015; S67-S74 p(Suppl1): 39.
Bagnardi V, Rota M, Botteri E, et al. Alcohol consumption and site-specific cancer risk: A comprehensive dose-response meta-analysis. Br J Cancer 2015; 112(3): 580-93.
[] [PMID: 25422909]
Tramacere I, Pelucchi C, Bonifazi M, et al. Alcohol drinking and non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk: A systematic review and a meta-analysis. Ann Oncol 2012; 23(11): 2791-8.
[] [PMID: 22357444]
Psaltopoulou T, Sergentanis TN, Ntanasis-Stathopoulos I, Tzanninis IG, Tsilimigras DI, Dimopoulos MA. Alcohol consumption and risk of hematological malignancies: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Int J Cancer 2018; 143(3): 486-95.
[] [PMID: 29460427]
Islami F, Fedirko V, Tramacere I, et al. Alcohol drinking and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma with focus on light-drinkers and never-smokers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cancer 2011; 129(10): 2473-84.
[] [PMID: 21190191]
Tramacere I, Pelucchi C, Bagnardi V, et al. A meta-analysis on alcohol drinking and esophageal and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma risk. Ann Oncol 2012; 23(2): 287-97.
[] [PMID: 21551004]
He Z, Zhao TT, Xu HM, et al. Association between alcohol consumption and the risk of gastric cancer: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Oncotarget 2017; 8(48): 84459-72.
[] [PMID: 29137439]
Rota M, Pelucchi C, Bertuccio P, et al. Alcohol consumption and gastric cancer risk-A pooled analysis within the StoP project consortium. Int J Cancer 2017; 141(10): 1950-62.
[] [PMID: 28718913]
Yadav D, Lowenfels AB. The epidemiology of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Gastroenterology 2013; 144(6): 1252-61.
[] [PMID: 23622135]
Tramacere I, Scotti L, Jenab M, et al. Alcohol drinking and pancreatic cancer risk: A meta-analysis of the dose-risk relation. Int J Cancer 2010; 126(6): 1474-86.
[] [PMID: 19816941]
Cho E, Smith-Warner SA, Ritz J, et al. Alcohol intake and colorectal cancer: A pooled analysis of 8 cohort studies. Ann Intern Med 2004; 140(8): 603-13.
[] [PMID: 15096331]
Vieira AR, Abar L, Chan DSM, et al. Foods and beverages and colorectal cancer risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies, an update of the evidence of the WCRF-AICR Continuous Update Project. Ann Oncol 2017; 28(8): 1788-802.
[] [PMID: 28407090]
Mizoue T, Inoue M, Wakai K, et al. Research Group for Development and Evaluation of Cancer Prevention Strategies in Japan. Alcohol drinking and colorectal cancer in Japanese: A pooled analysis of results from five cohort studies. Am J Epidemiol 2008; 167(12): 1397-406.
[] [PMID: 18420544]
Wang Y, Duan H, Yang H, Lin J. A pooled analysis of alcohol intake and colorectal cancer. Int J Clin Exp Med 2015; 8(5): 6878-89.
[PMID: 26221225]
Galeone C, Malerba S, Rota M, et al. A meta-analysis of alcohol consumption and the risk of brain tumours. Ann Oncol 2013; 24(2): 514-23.
[] [PMID: 23041590]
Rota M, Pasquali E, Bellocco R, et al. Alcohol drinking and cutaneous melanoma risk: A systematic review and dose-risk meta-analysis. Br J Dermatol 2014; 170(5): 1021-8.
[] [PMID: 24495200]
Gandini S, Masala G, Palli D, et al. Alcohol, alcoholic beverages, and melanoma risk: A systematic literature review and dose-response meta-analysis. Eur J Nutr 2018; 57(7): 2323-32.
[] [PMID: 29327230]
Bagnardi V, Rota M, Botteri E, et al. Alcohol consumption and lung cancer risk in never smokers: A meta-analysis. Ann Oncol 2011; 22(12): 2631-9.
[] [PMID: 21427064]
Choi YJ, Myung SK, Lee JH. Light alcohol drinking and risk of cancer: A meta-analysis of cohort studies. Cancer Res Treat 2018; 50(2): 474-87.
[] [PMID: 28546524]
La Vecchia C, Zhang ZF, Altieri A. Alcohol and laryngeal cancer: An update. Eur J Cancer Prev 2008; 17(2): 116-24.
[] [PMID: 18287868]
Ellison RC, Zhang Y, McLennan CE, Rothman KJ. Exploring the relation of alcohol consumption to risk of breast cancer. Am J Epidemiol 2001; 154(8): 740-7.
[] [PMID: 11590087]
Suzuki R, Orsini N, Mignone L, Saji S, Wolk A. Alcohol intake and risk of breast cancer defined by estrogen and progesterone receptor status--a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Int J Cancer 2008; 122(8): 1832-41.
[] [PMID: 18067133]
Kelemen LE, Bandera EV, Terry KL, et al. Australian Ovarian Cancer Study Group and Australian Cancer Study (Ovarian Cancer); Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium. Recent alcohol consumption and risk of incident ovarian carcinoma: A pooled analysis of 5,342 cases and 10,358 controls from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium. BMC Cancer 2013; 13: 28.
[] [PMID: 23339562]
Yan-Hong H, Jing L, Hong L, Shan-Shan H, Yan L, Ju L. Association between alcohol consumption and the risk of ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. BMC Public Health 2015; 15: 223.
[] [PMID: 25885863]
Rota M, Scotti L, Turati F, et al. Alcohol consumption and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis of the dose-risk relation. Eur J Cancer Prev 2012; 21(4): 350-9.
[] [PMID: 22095143]
Downer MK, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, et al. Alcohol intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the health professionals follow-up study. J Clin Oncol 2019; 37(17): 1499-511.
[] [PMID: 31026211]
Mao Q, Lin Y, Zheng X, Qin J, Yang K, Xie L. A meta-analysis of alcohol intake and risk of bladder cancer. Cancer Causes Control 2010; 21(11): 1843-50.
[] [PMID: 20617375]
Pelucchi C, Galeone C, Tramacere I, et al. Alcohol drinking and bladder cancer risk: A meta-analysis. Ann Oncol 2012; 23(6): 1586-93.
[] [PMID: 22039083]
Cheng G, Xie L. Alcohol intake and risk of renal cell carcinoma: A meta-analysis of published case-control studies. Arch Med Sci 2011; 7(4): 648-57.
[] [PMID: 22291801]
Song DY, Song S, Song Y, Lee JE. Alcohol intake and renal cell cancer risk: A meta-analysis. Br J Cancer 2012; 106(11): 1881-90.
[] [PMID: 22516951]
Bellocco R, Pasquali E, Rota M, et al. Alcohol drinking and risk of renal cell carcinoma: Results of a meta-analysis. Ann Oncol 2012; 23(9): 2235-44.
[] [PMID: 22398178]
Bagnardi V, Rota M, Botteri E, et al. Light alcohol drinking and cancer: A meta-analysis. Ann Oncol 2013; 24(2): 301-8.
[] [PMID: 22910838]
Myung SK. Erroneous conclusions about the association between light alcohol drinking and the risk of cancer: Comments on Bagnardi et al.'s meta-analysis. Ann Oncol 2016; 27(11): 2138.
[] [PMID: 27630161]
GBD 2016 Alcohol Collaborators. Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2016: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet 2018; 392(10152): 1015-35.
[] [PMID: 30146330]
Ratna A, Mandrekar P. Alcohol and cancer: Mechanisms and therapies. Biomolecules 2017; 7(3): E61.
[] [PMID: 28805741]
Baan R, Straif K, Grosse Y, et al. WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group. Carcinogenicity of alcoholic beverages. Lancet Oncol 2007; 8(4): 292-3.
[] [PMID: 17431955]
Boffetta P, Hashibe M. Alcohol and cancer. Lancet Oncol 2006; 7(2): 149-56.
[] [PMID: 16455479]
Seitz HK, Stickel F. Acetaldehyde as an underestimated risk factor for cancer development: Role of genetics in ethanol metabolism. Genes Nutr 2010; 5(2): 121-8.
[] [PMID: 19847467]
Goedde HW, Agarwal DP, Fritze G, et al. Distribution of ADH2 and ALDH2 genotypes in different populations. Hum Genet 1992; 88(3): 344-6.
[] [PMID: 1733836]
Cao Y, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL. Light to moderate intake of alcohol, drinking patterns, and risk of cancer: Results from two prospective US cohort studies. BMJ 2015; 351: h4238.
[] [PMID: 26286216]
Rachdaoui N, Sarkar DK. Effects of alcohol on the endocrine system. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 2013; 42(3): 593-615.
[] [PMID: 24011889]
Chen WY, Rosner B, Hankinson SE, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Moderate alcohol consumption during adult life, drinking patterns, and breast cancer risk. JAMA 2011; 306(17): 1884-90.
[] [PMID: 22045766]
Liu Y, Nguyen N, Colditz GA. Links between alcohol consumption and breast cancer: A look at the evidence. Womens Health (Lond) 2015; 11(1): 65-77.
[] [PMID: 25581056]
Michael J, Howard LE, Markt SC, et al. Early-life alcohol intake and high-grade prostate cancer: Results from an equal-access, racially diverse biopsy cohort. Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2018; 11(10): 621-8.
[] [PMID: 30139875]
Saladi RN, Nektalova T, Fox JL. Induction of skin carcinogenicity by alcohol and ultraviolet light. Clin Exp Dermatol 2010; 35(1): 7-11.
[] [PMID: 19778305]
Jiang CH, Sun TL, Xiang DX, Wei SS, Li WQ. Anticancer activity and mechanism of xanthohumol: A prenylated flavonoid from hops (Humulus lupulus L.). Front Pharmacol 2018; 9: 530.
[] [PMID: 29872398]
Ko JH, Sethi G, Um JY, et al. The role of resveratrol in cancer therapy. Int J Mol Sci 2017; 18(12): E2589.
[] [PMID: 29194365]
Schrieks IC, Heil AL, Hendriks HF, Mukamal KJ, Beulens JW. The effect of alcohol consumption on insulin sensitivity and glycemic status: A systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies. Diabetes Care 2015; 38(4): 723-32.
[] [PMID: 25805864]
Facchini F, Chen YD, Reaven GM. Light-to-moderate alcohol intake is associated with enhanced insulin sensitivity. Diabetes Care 1994; 17(2): 115-9.
[] [PMID: 7907975]
Díaz LE, Montero A, González-Gross M, Vallejo AI, Romeo J, Marcos A. Influence of alcohol consumption on immunological status: A review. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002; 56(Suppl. 3): S50-3.
[] [PMID: 12142963]

Rights & Permissions Print Export Cite as
© 2022 Bentham Science Publishers | Privacy Policy