Cancer risks derived from alcohol

  • Albert J. Tuyns
Chemical Cancer Risks


Most cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract are related to alcohol consumption. For the mouth, oesophagus and larynx a positive dose-response relationship has been observed, as well as a combination effect with tobacco smoking—according to a multiplicative model in the case of the oesophagus. Nutritional factors also play a role. For other cancer sites, the role of alcohol is controversial, except for primary liver cancer which often develops on a cirrhotic liver. The mechanisms by which alcohol increases cancer risk are still obscure. It is not considered to be a carcinogen by itself but rather as a co-carcinogen, facilitating or enhancing the role of other carcinogens. Another mechanism might be the induction of microsomal enzymes activating pro-carcinogens. As in the case for smoking, prevention can be achieved by abstention or reduction of consumption. This has to be considered seriously in countries where alcohol consumption is increasing.

Key words

Alcohol Cancer Epidemiology Risks 


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Copyright information

© Pergamon Press Ltd. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert J. Tuyns
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Analytical EpidemiologyInternational Agency for Research on CancerLyon Cédex 08France

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