Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 297–301 | Cite as

Lifetime alcohol consumption and upper aero-digestive tract cancer risk in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study

  • Harindra JayasekaraEmail author
  • Robert J. MacInnis
  • Allison M. Hodge
  • John L. Hopper
  • Graham G. Giles
  • Robin Room
  • Dallas R. English
Brief report



Cohort studies have rarely examined the association between upper aero-digestive tract (UADT) cancer risk and lifetime alcohol intake. We examined the associations between incident squamous cell carcinoma of the UADT (oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus) and alcohol intake for different periods in life using data from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study.


Usual alcohol intake for 10-year periods from age 20 was calculated using recalled frequency and quantity of beverage-specific consumption. Cox regression with age as the time axis was performed to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI) for the associations of UADT cancer with alcohol intake for different periods in life compared with abstention.


During a mean follow-up of 16.2 person-years, 98 incident cases of UADT cancer were identified. We observed a dose-dependent association between lifetime alcohol intake and the risk of UADT cancer (multivariable-adjusted HR 2.67, 95 % CI 1.27–5.60 for an intake of ≥40 g/day and multivariable-adjusted HR 1.16, 95 % CI 1.06–1.28 for a 10 g/day increment in intake). A positive association with baseline alcohol intake (multivariable-adjusted HR 1.12, 95 % CI 1.02–1.24 for a 10 g/day increment in intake) was found to be a slightly weaker predictor of risk than lifetime intake.


Limiting alcohol intake from early adulthood may reduce UADT cancer risk.


Alcohol Cancer Cohort Lifetime consumption Upper aero-digestive tract 



We thank the original investigators and the diligent team, who recruited the participants and who continue working on follow-up, for their contribution. We also express our gratitude to the many thousands of Melbourne residents who continue to participate in the study. This study was funded by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (209057, 251533, 396414). Cohort recruitment was funded by VicHealth and The Cancer Council Victoria. Further infrastructure support was provided by The Cancer Council Victoria. HJ is the recipient of a postgraduate scholarship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (1017346). JLH is a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Principal Research Fellow. RR’s position is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harindra Jayasekara
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert J. MacInnis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Allison M. Hodge
    • 2
  • John L. Hopper
    • 1
    • 2
  • Graham G. Giles
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robin Room
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Dallas R. English
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Cancer Epidemiology CentreCancer Council VictoriaMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Health and Society, Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Alcohol Policy ResearchTurning Point Alcohol and Drug CentreMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and DrugsStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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