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PLoS One. 2017 Oct 3;12(10):e0185778. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185778. eCollection 2017.

The relationship between drinking alcohol and esophageal, gastric or colorectal cancer: A nationwide population-based cohort study of South Korea.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine and Liver Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Biostatistics, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, South Korea.



Epidemiologic findings of low-volume alcohol consumption in relation to gastrointestinal cancers including gastric cancer are inconsistent.


The association between alcohol intake and esophageal, gastric and colorectal cancer risk was examined in a population-based prospective cohort of 23,323,730 adults in Korea who had undergone a biennial evaluation provided by the National Health Insurance Corporation between the years 2009 and 2012. After median 5.4 years of follow-up, 9,171 esophageal, 135,382 gastric and 154,970 colorectal cancer cases were identified. Cox regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).


Light drinking as well as moderate to heavy alcohol consumption significantly increased the risks of the three gastrointestinal cancers (HR 1.51; 95% CI, 1.43-1.60; HR 1.08; 95% CI, 1.06-1.09; HR 1.12; 95% CI, 1.11-1.14) compared with non-drinkers after adjusting for age, sex, smoking, exercise, income, body mass index, and diabetes. The synergistically increased cancer risk between excessive amount of alcohol consumption and currently smoking or underweight individuals was observed only in the esophageal cancers.


Light drinking including even one alcoholic drink a day is associated with increased risks of esophageal, gastric and colorectal cancer.

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