Association between alcohol consumption and the risk of ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective observational studies

BMC Public Health. 2015 Mar 7:15:223. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1355-8.


Background: Alcohol consumption has been inconsistently associated with the risk of ovarian cancer. The purpose of this study was to summarize the data from prospective cohort studies on the relationship between alcohol consumption and ovarian cancer using a meta-analytic approach.

Methods: We performed electronic searches of PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library in May 2014 to identify studies that examined the effects of alcohol consumption on the incidence of ovarian cancer. Only prospective cohort studies that reported effect estimates about the incidence of ovarian cancer with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of alcohol intake were included.

Results: Collectively, we included 13 prospective studies that reported on data from 1,996,841 individuals and included 5,857 cases of ovarian cancer. Alcohol consumption had little to no effect on ovarian cancer incidence when compared to non-drinkers (risk ratio [RR], 1.03; 95% CI, 0.96-1.10; P = 0.473). Similarly, low (RR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.93-1.00; P = 0.059), moderate (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.92-1.27; P = 0.333), and heavy (RR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.88-1.12; P = 0.904) alcohol consumption was not associated with the risk of ovarian cancer. Furthermore, subgroup analyses suggested that low alcohol intake was associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer whereas heavy alcohol intake was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer in multiple subpopulations.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that alcohol intake is not associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Subgroup analyses indicated that alcohol consumption might be associated with the risk of ovarian cancer in specific population or in studies with specific characteristics.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors