Cancer

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.


Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start. There is evidence that excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages or binge drinking is associated with increased morbidity and mortality from
several forms of cancer.  Low amounts of wine on the other hand, are not associated with the risk of any cancer site with the possible exception of breast cancer for women and cancers of upper gastrointestinal tract (GIT) such as the mouth and throat as well as the liver.  An increased risk for the GIT cancers is observed with all alcoholic beverages, which is a linear relationship (the greater the amount, the higher the risk), and especially in combination with smoking.

 

With regards to breast cancer and alcoholic beverages, the research results vary widely since not only the amount of alcohol but also other co-factors as well as drinking pattern play an important role and have to be taken into consideration. 

 

The majority of epidemiological studies, however, show a linear increase in the relative risk of breast cancer with an increasing dose of alcohol but the magnitude of the effect is small. An increased breast cancer risk is observed in women with additional co-factors such as genetic disposition, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), low folate intake, overweight and smoking.

 

A meta-analysis for example, examined the influence of hormones on breast cancer risk and found that alcoholic beverages (> 20g/d) might increase the breast cancer risk only among women who were concurrently using menopausal hormone therapy (HT) and /or having estrogen receptors positive tumors. These findings indicate that a hormone-related mechanism may mediate the relation between alcohol drinking and an increased breast cancer risk. Among women who had ceased using HT, the risk associated with 2 or more drinks per day was not apparent.

Another factor to be considered is folate intake. Several studies have shown an inverse relation between folate intake and cancer. Accordingly, some research results found a significant interaction between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and folate intake where alcohol seems to increase the risk significantly only for those individuals with low folate intake.


All the studies show that the knowledge about the causes of breast cancer is still very incomplete and as scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the USA, recently pointed out, some other (possible confounding) factors have not been considered in the research relating the consumption of alcoholic beverages to breast cancer:

  1. In the epidemiological data provided, the intake of alcoholic beverages is usually under-reported by subjects (which could exaggerate the harm associated with light drinking).
  2. In most studies, the pattern of drinking (regularly and moderately vs. binge drinking with a similar total weekly alcohol consumption) as well as beverage type have generally not been taken into account. However, this aspect of drinking pattern is important given that binge drinking is associated with much higher blood alcohol concentrations and acetaldehyde accumulation (a known carcinogen) and production of free radicals (reactive oxygen species). Considering that the blood alcohol level may be the most important mechanism for effects on cancer risk, the pattern by which a woman consumes a given amount of alcohol is particularly relevant in interpreting associations.
  3. In addition, epidemiological studies usually provide data only for a short period of time, while the development of cancer may relate to exposures over many decades.


The authors concluded that based on scientific evidence, in post menopausal women, the increase in the risk of breast cancer, if there is any at all, is small..

 

The relationship between wine consumption and cancer is even more complex. It is not yet completely proven that wine drinkers have a lower risk for cancer than drinkers of other alcoholic beverages. However, epidemiological studies indicate a lower cancer risk for wine drinkers for most cancer sites compared to drinkers of other alcoholic beverages. Moderate wine intake may actually reduce the risk of oesophagus, thyroid, lung, kidney and colorectal cancers as well as Non-Hodgkin’s Lyphoma. To what extent differences in drinking pattern or certain beverage-specific ingredients are responsible still needs to be determined. Concerning breast cancer, there may also be a protective role for wine.

What might be a possible mechanism for the protective effect of wine? Damage to the DNA of cells by chemicals in the environment and food as well as by the physical environment can lead to cancer. Various experimental studies suggest that the phenolic compounds in wine may protect the DNA of cells of body tissues from damage or may stop the growth of cells with damaged DNA. Complete sequencing of the grapevine genome has revealed genes that are responsible for the synthesis of health-promoting compounds (resveratrol and other polyphenols). 
Another potential explanation for the observation that in some studies  red wine does not appear to increase breast cancer risk, may be the fact that red wine is a nutritional aromatase inhibitor (AI).  Aromatase inhibitors (AI) prevent the conversion of androgens to estrogens, thus a hormone-related mechanism might be involved. 

 

In summary, the cancer risk should not be evaluated in isolation, one particular food factor (like wine consumption) should not be analysed out of context with its cultural and culinary habits. The effect of wine on cancer risk also depends on whether it is consumed with or without a meal and the  nature of other foods consumed. There needs to be a distinction between different types of cancer and the influence of lifestyle (according to the World Cancer Research Fund, more than 1/3 of the cancers could be prevented by a healthy diet, regular physical activity and no weight gain) and genetic factors needs to be assessed.  

 

In future studies, the focus should be more on the pattern of drinking, not just the average weekly amount of alcohol, and thus, have a better understanding of how moderate drinking impacts cancer risk. This will allow consumers to make better informed decisions about the risks and benefits of moderate wine consumption in the context of their overall health and at different stages of their life.

 

The above summary provide an overview of the topic, for more details and specific questions, please refer to the articles in the database.

 

 

 

 

Experimental evidence suggests that alcohol induces cutaneous carcinogenesis, yet epidemiological studies on the link between alcohol intake and skin cancer have been inconsistent. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) is a prospective cohort initiated in 1992 in 10 European countries. Alcohol intake at baseline and average lifetime alcohol intake were assessed using validated country-specific dietary and lifestyle questionnaires. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated in Cox models. A total of 14 037 skin cancer cases (melanoma: n = 2457; basal-cell carcinoma (BCC): n = 8711; squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC): n = 1928; unknown: n = 941) were identified among 450 112 participants (average follow-up: 15 years). Baseline alcohol intake was positively associated with SCC…
IMPORTANCE: Although numerous studies have shown an association between alcohol consumption and cancer, how changes in drinking behavior increase or decrease the incidence of cancer is not well understood. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between the reduction, cessation, or increase of alcohol consumption and the development of alcohol-related cancers and all cancers. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This population-based cohort study analyzed adult beneficiaries in the Korean National Health Insurance Service. Participants (aged >/=40 years) included those who underwent a national health screening in both 2009 and 2011 and had available data on their drinking status. Data were analyzed from April 16 to July 6, 2020. Exposures: Alcohol consumption level, which was self-reported by participants in health screening questionnaires, was categorized…
We examined associations between sex-specific alcohol intake trajectories and alcohol-related cancer risk using data from 22 756 women and 15 701 men aged 40 to 69 years at baseline in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. Alcohol intake for 10-year periods from age 20 until the decade encompassing recruitment, calculated using recalled beverage-specific frequency and quantity, was used to estimate group-based sex-specific intake trajectories. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated for primary invasive alcohol-related cancer (upper aerodigestive tract, breast, liver and colorectum). Three distinct alcohol intake trajectories for women (lifetime abstention, stable light, increasing moderate) and six for men (lifetime abstention, stable light, stable moderate, increasing heavy, early decreasing heavy, late decreasing heavy) were identified. 2303 incident…
It is known that the intake of alcoholic beverages may impair genetic and epigenetic regulatory events with consequent crucial effects on cell phenotypes and that its association with selected genotypes can lead to a different risk of cancer in the population. The aim of this review is to pick up selected studies on this topic and recapitulate some of the biochemical and nutrigenetic/nutrigenomic aspects involved in the impact of dietary low-dose alcohol consumption on the switching-on or -off of tumorigenic pathways. These include i) the existence of predisposing or protective human genotypes and the relationship between dietary compounds and alcohol in the promotion or inhibition of carcinogenesis; ii) the effects of other components of alcoholic drinks in the modulation of…
BACKGROUND: Understanding the magnitude of cancer burden attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors is crucial for development of effective prevention and mitigation strategies. We analysed results from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019 to inform cancer control planning efforts globally. METHODS: The GBD 2019 comparative risk assessment framework was used to estimate cancer burden attributable to behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risk factors. A total of 82 risk–outcome pairs were included on the basis of the World Cancer Research Fund criteria. Estimated cancer deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) in 2019 and change in these measures between 2010 and 2019 are presented. Findings Globally, in 2019, the risk factors included in this analysis accounted…
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