Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 1–10 | Cite as

Alcohol consumption and risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative

  • Jessica T. Kubo
  • Michael T. Henderson
  • Manisha Desai
  • Jean Wactawski-Wende
  • Marcia L. Stefanick
  • Jean Y. Tang
Original Paper



The relationship between alcohol consumption and preference of alcohol type with hazard of melanoma (MM) and risk of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) was examined in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study (OS).


A prospective cohort of 59,575 White postmenopausal women in the WHI OS (mean age 63.6) was analyzed. Cox proportional hazards models and logistic regression techniques were used to assess the hazard and risk of physician-adjudicated MM and self-reported NMSC, respectively, after adjusting for potential confounders including measures of sun exposure and skin type.


Over 10.2 mean years of follow-up, 532 MM cases and 9,593 NMSC cases occurred. A significant relationship between amount of alcohol consumed and both MM and NMSC was observed, with those who consume 7+ drinks per week having a higher hazard of MM (HR 1.64 (1.09, 2.49), p global = 0.0013) and higher risk of NMSC (OR 1.23 (1.11, 1.36), p global < 0.0001) compared to non-drinkers. Lifetime alcohol consumption was also positively associated with hazard of MM (p = 0.0011) and risk of NMSC (p < 0.0001). Further, compared to non-drinkers, a preference for either white wine or liquor was associated with an increased hazard of MM (HR 1.52 (1.02, 2.27) for white wine; HR 1.65 (1.07, 2.55) for liquor) and risk of NMSC (OR 1.16 (1.05, 1.28) for white wine; OR 1.26 (1.13, 1.41) for liquor).


Higher current alcohol consumption, higher lifetime alcohol consumption, and a preference for white wine or liquor were associated with increased hazard of MM and risk of NMSC.


Alcohol Melanoma Non-melanoma skin cancer Women’s Health Initiative 



The WHI programs is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through contracts, HHSN268201100046C, HHSN268201100001C, HHSN268201100002C, HHSN268201100003C, HHSN268201100004C. The WHI programs are supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through contracts, HHSN268201100046C, HHSN268201100001C, HHSN268201100002C, HHSN268201100003C, HHSN268201100004C. The authors would like to acknowledge the Women’s Health Initiative investigators: Program Office: (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland) Dr. Jacques Rossouw, Shari Ludlam, Dr. Dale Burwen, Dr. Joan McGowan, Dr. Leslie Ford, and Dr. Nancy Geller; Clinical Coordinating Center: Clinical Coordinating Center: (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA) Dr. Garnet Anderson, Dr. Ross Prentice, Dr. Andrea LaCroix, and Dr. Charles Kooperberg; Investigators and Academic Centers: (Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA) Dr. JoAnn E. Manson; (MedStar Health Research Institute/Howard University, Washington, DC) Dr. Barbara V. Howard; (Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford, CA) Dr. Marcia L. Stefanick; (The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH) Dr. Rebecca Jackson; (University of Arizona, Tucson/Phoenix, AZ) Dr. Cynthia A. Thomson; (University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY) Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende; (University of Florida, Gainesville/Jacksonville, FL) Dr. Marian Limacher; (University of Iowa, Iowa City/Davenport, IA) Dr. Robert Wallace; (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA) Dr. Lewis Kuller; (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC) Dr. Sally Shumaker; Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study: (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC) Dr. Sally Shumaker.

Conflict of interest

The authors do not have any conflicts of interest to report.

Supplementary material

10552_2013_280_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica T. Kubo
    • 1
  • Michael T. Henderson
    • 2
  • Manisha Desai
    • 1
  • Jean Wactawski-Wende
    • 3
  • Marcia L. Stefanick
    • 4
  • Jean Y. Tang
    • 2
  1. 1.Quantitative Sciences Unit, Department of MedicineStanford University School of MedicinePalo AltoUSA
  2. 2.Stanford School of MedicineStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of Social and Preventive MedicineUniversity of BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  4. 4.Stanford Prevention Research CenterStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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