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Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(1):1-15. doi: 10.1080/01635580802372633.

Alcohol consumption and the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a systematic review.

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Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


The evidence concerning the influence of alcohol drinking on the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) has yielded intriguing findings but has lacked a clear-cut interpretation due to inconsistencies. To unify this body of evidence, we performed a systematic review. With funding and using a protocol developed by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), 15 bibliographic databases were searched for epidemiological studies that reported a measure of association between alcoholic beverage consumption and NPC. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) for highest-vs.-lowest categories of total alcohol intake was obtained by using an inverse-variance weighted random-effects model. A dose-response trend was examined in models using generalized least square estimation. The search identified 14 case-control studies from 5 countries. For total alcohol intake, the pooled ORs in a comparison of the highest to the lowest category was 1.33 (95% CI: = 1.09-1.62) in 11 studies. Data from 6 studies indicated a J-shape dose-response trend, with NPC risk decreasing with up to 15 drinks/wk and increasing with higher intake. Fewer data were available to assess the associations between NPC and intake of beer, wine, and spirits. The potential J-shaped dose-response trend suggests a reduced risk of NPC related to the light alcohol drinking, an observation that warrants further study. Considered in total, the quantitative summaries of the case-control evidence suggest that heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of NPC.

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