Alcoholic beverages and carbonated soft drinks: consumption and gastrointestinal cancer risks

Cancer Treat Res. 2014:159:97-120. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-38007-5_7.


Alcoholic beverages (ABs) and carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) are widely consumed worldwide. Given the high consumption of these beverages, the scientific community has increased its focus on their health impact. There is epidemiological evidence of a causal association between AB intake and digestive cancer, but the role of alcohol in determining cancer is not fully defined. Experimental studies have so far identified multiple mechanisms involved in carcinogenesis; ethanol itself is not carcinogenic but available data suggest that acetaldehyde (AA) and reactive oxygen species-both products of ethanol metabolism-have a genotoxic effect promoting carcinogenesis. Other carcinogenetic mechanisms include nutritional deficits, changes in DNA methylation, and impaired immune surveillance. As CSDs are often suspected to cause certain gastrointestinal disorders, consequently, some researchers have hypothesized their involvement in gastrointestinal cancers. Of all the ingredients, carbon dioxide is prevalently involved in the alteration of gastrointestinal physiology by a direct mucosal effect and indirect effects mediated by the mechanical pressure determined by gas. The role of sugar or artificial sweeteners is also debated as factors involved in the carcinogenic processes. However, several surveys have failed to show any associations between CSDs and esophageal, gastric, or colon cancers. On the other hand, a slight correlation between risk of pancreatic cancer and CSD consumption has been found.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholic Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Carbonated Beverages / adverse effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors