Alcohol consumption and risk of cancer: a systematic literature review

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(9):4965-72. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2013.14.9.4965.


This study aimed to discuss the consumption of alcohol as a risk factor for major cancers. We performed a search in the PubMed database, using the following inclusion criteria: meta-analysis published in English in the last 10 years that addressed the relationship between alcohol and the risk of developing cancer. The results indicate that moderate to heavy consumption of alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, larynx, colorectum, central nervous system, pancreas, breast and prostate. This review did not find any association between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of cancers of the lung, bladder, endometrium and ovary. It was also observed that alcohol consumption may be inversely related to thyroid cancer. Our systematic review has confirmed consumption of alcohol as a risk factor for the development of several types of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Mouth Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pharyngeal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology