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Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Nov 1;174(9):1044-53. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr210. Epub 2011 Sep 30.

Prospective study of alcohol consumption quantity and frequency and cancer-specific mortality in the US population.

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Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 5635 Fishers Lane, Room 2071, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Prospective associations between quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption and cancer-specific mortality were studied using a nationally representative sample with pooled data from the 1988, 1990, 1991, and 1997-2004 administrations of the National Health Interview Survey (n = 323,354). By 2006, 8,362 participants had died of cancer. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate relative risks. Among current alcohol drinkers, for all-site cancer mortality, higher-quantity drinking (≥ 3 drinks on drinking days vs. 1 drink on drinking days) was associated with increased risk among men (relative risk (RR) = 1.24, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.09, 1.41; P for linear trend = 0.001); higher-frequency drinking (≥ 3 days/week vs. <1 day/week) was associated with increased risk among women (RR = 1.32, 95% CI: 1.13, 1.55; P-trend < 0.001). Lung cancer mortality results were similar, but among never smokers, results were null. For colorectal cancer mortality, higher-quantity drinking was associated with increased risk among women (RR = 1.93, 95% CI: 1.17, 3.18; P-trend = 0.03). Higher-frequency drinking was associated with increased risk of prostate cancer (RR = 1.55, 95% CI: 1.01, 2.38; P for quadratic effect = 0.03) and tended to be associated with increased risk of breast cancer (RR = 1.44, 95% CI: 0.96, 2.17; P-trend = 0.06). Epidemiologic studies of alcohol and cancer mortality should consider the independent effects of quantity and frequency.

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