Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate the role of alcohol drinking and patterns of consumption in oral cancer incidence and mortality in a cohort study using data from the Trivandrum Oral Cancer Screening Study, India.
Methods: At baseline, the study participants completed a lifestyle questionnaire including items on frequency and duration of alcohol consumption. They were followed up for oral cancer incidence and mortality. Data from 32 347 subjects, of whom 134 eventually developed oral cancer, were analysed to estimate risk of oral cancer incidence and mortality according to drinking patterns, using a Cox regression model adjusted for age, religion, education, occupation, body mass index (BMI), standard of living index, chewing habits, smoking habits, and vegetable and fruit intake.
Results: Current and past drinkers were each associated with significantly increased risk of developing oral cancer. The hazard ratio increased significantly by 49% (95% CI = 1-121%) among current drinkers and 90% (95% CI = 13-218%) among past drinkers. A significant dose-response relationship between intake frequency, duration and oral cancer risk (incidence and mortality) was observed.
Conclusions: As with other lifestyle factors, alcohol intake plays an important role in oral carcinogenesis in this population, and understanding this role is relevant to developing public health policies targeting at-risk population.