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Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Feb;46(2):476-9. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Potential mechanism for Calvados-related oesophageal cancer.

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  • 1University of Helsinki, Research Unit of Substance Abuse Medicine, Helsinki 00014, Finland.


The old Normandian habit of consumption of hot Calvados is associated with an increased risk of oesophageal cancer compared to other alcoholic beverages. The role of alcohol consumption in the risk of oesophageal cancer is well established. The first metabolite of alcohol, acetaldehyde is a potential local carcinogen in humans. Accordingly, different acetaldehyde concentrations in different beverages could account for some of the variations in cancer risk with regard to the type of alcoholic beverage. Eighteen samples of farm-made Calvados were collected in Normandy. Samples of commercially available beverages were purchased, including factory-made Calvados, other spirits, wines, beer and cider. The samples were analysed gas-chromatically for acetaldehyde and ethanol concentrations. All results are expressed as mean+/-SD. The mean acetaldehyde concentration of all Calvados samples (1781+/-861 microM, n =25) differed highly significantly (p<0.001) from that of all wine samples (275+/-236 microM), from all other spirits samples (1251+/-1155 microM, p<0.05), and from all beer and cider samples (233+/-281 microM, p<0.001). Farm-made Calvados and farm-made cognac had the highest mean acetaldehyde concentration of the measured beverages. The high concentration of acetaldehyde combined with possible effects of the high temperature at which Calvados is consumed could account for the increased risk of Calvados-related oesophageal cancer.

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