Page last updated: June 26, 2018
Alcohol consumption and risk of hematological malignancies

Current evidence suggests that alcohol intake increases the risk of several carcinomas, which might subsequently lead to a recommendation towards limiting alcohol consumption. A study published in the February edition of the International Journal Of Cancer, however, suggests that there are accumulating data worth meta-analysing that show a different effect on the risk of hematological malignancies.

A study sought eligible cohort studies in PubMed database up to August 31, 2016. Separate analyses were performed by subtype of hematological malignancy (non-Hodgkin lymphoma and subtypes, Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and subtypes), time status (ever, current, former), level of consumption (light, moderate, heavy), alcoholic beverage (total alcohol, beer, liquor, wine), and gender.

Moderate and heavy alcohol consumption were significantly associated with reduced risk of non- Hodgkin lymphoma (relative risk [RR]=0.85, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.80-0.90 and RR=0.73, 95%CI: 0.60-0.89, respectively); a protective trend was also shown for light alcohol intake (RR=0.93, 95%CI:0.87-1.00). Specifically, beer consumption was associated with reduced non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk (RR=0.88, 95%CI: 0.81-0.95). However, the association regarding other alcoholic beverages seemed null.

The beneficial effects of alcohol mainly pertained to Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (RR=0.83, 95%CI:0.77-0.89) and Follicular Lymphoma (RR=0.85, 95%CI:0.78-0.93). There was also no association between alcohol consumption and risk of Hodgkin lymphoma or leukemias. In contrast to most solid malignancies, alcohol seems to confer a protective effect on non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk, especially on Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma and Follicular Lymphoma subtypes, with beer being notably beneficial, the researchers conclude.

Source: Alcohol consumption and risk of hematological malignancies: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Psaltopoulou T, Sergentanis TN, Ntanasis-Stathopoulos I, Tzanninis IG, Tsilimigras DI, Dimopoulos MA. Int J Cancer. 2018 Feb 20.

doi: 10.1002/ijc.31330.
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