Alcohol Linked to Modest Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Earlier studies have tended to find no link or inconsistent associations with pancreatic cancer

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Alcohol consumption is associated with a small increase in risk of pancreatic cancer, according to research published online Mar. 3 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Jeanine M. Genkinger, Ph.D., of the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues conducted a pooled analysis of 14 prospective cohort studies with more than 860,000 individuals. During follow-up, 2,187 subjects developed pancreatic cancer.

Consuming 30 grams or more of alcohol daily was associated with a slightly higher risk of cancer (pooled multivariate relative risk, 1.22) compared to no consumption, the investigators found. The association was stronger in individuals with normal weight compared to those who were overweight or obese.

"There are several biological mechanisms by which alcohol has been theorized to promote carcinogenesis: (a) through the oxidation byproduct of alcohol metabolism, acetaldehyde, which may act as a co-carcinogen; (b) through up-regulation of immunosuppressive and inflammatory pathways; (c) by induction of Phase I cytochrome P450 biotransformation enzymes that are involved in the activation of carcinogens in the liver and other tissues; and (e) by depletion of folate, which may alter DNA synthesis and transcription," the authors write.

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