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Research Summary

Alcohol Use and Death from Pancreatic Cancer

Prior research on the association between alcohol use and pancreatic cancer has been confounded by smoking and limited by underpowered studies. In this study, researchers prospectively followed a cohort of 1,030,467 adults aged 30 years or older from 1982–2006. Quantity and frequency of current alcohol use were assessed at baseline. There were 6847 deaths from pancreatic cancer in the cohort over the study period. Multivariable models were used to adjust for demographics and other pancreatic cancer risk factors.

  • Compared with nondrinkers, the risk for pancreatic cancer death was higher among participants who drank 3 drinks per day (relative risk [RR], 1.31) and ≥4 drinks per day (RR, 1.14).
  • Compared with nondrinkers, the risk for pancreatic cancer death was higher among both never smokers (RR, 1.36) and ever smokers (RR 1.16) who drank ≥3 drinks per day.
  • Increased risk at ≥3 drinks per day was primarily seen with liquor use and not with beer or wine use.
  • Risk estimates were similar for men and women.

Comments:

This large prospective study shows increased risk for pancreatic cancer death among heavier drinkers regardless of smoking behavior. Adherence to lower risk drinking limits (no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women) should decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer. Kevin L. Kraemer, MD, MSc

Reference:

Gapstur SM, Jacobs EJ, Deka A, et al. Association of alcohol intake with pancreatic cancer mortality in never smokers. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(5):444–451.

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