More frequent alcohol drinking increases risk for these cancers

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In a new study from the Seoul National University, researchers found the frequency of drinking alcohol may be a more important risk factor for gastrointestinal (GI) cancers than the amount of alcohol consumed.

In the study, the team evaluated links between the frequency of drinking alcohol versus the amount of alcohol consumed per the occasion with the development of GI cancers (esophagus, stomach, colorectal, liver, biliary, and pancreas).

The analysis included 11,737,467 people identified through the Korean National Health Insurance System database.

They underwent a national health screening program (2009 through 2010) and were followed for about 6 years.

The researchers found that the risk for GI cancer was higher for mild drinkers, moderate drinkers, and heavy drinkers compared with nondrinkers.

There was a linear association between the risk for GI cancer and the frequency of drinking in a dose-dependent manner.

The risk for GI cancer increased with consumption up to 5 to 7 units per occasion but remained similar among those with a higher intake per session (e.g., 8 to 14 units per occasion).

For all six type of GI cancers, risk patterns were similar.

The team says people should be cautioned about regular consumption of small amounts of alcohol in addition to the total amount of alcohol drinking or amount per occasion.

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The study is published in JAMA Network Open. One author of the study is Jung Eun Yoo, M.D., Ph.D.

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