According to a large European study, men who average more than four alcoholic beverages per day are more likely than light drinkers to develop stomach cancer. These results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Cancer of the stomach is called gastric cancer. Gastric adenocarcinoma is the most common type of stomach cancer. It arises from cells that line the surface of the stomach.

Risk factors for stomach cancer include infection with the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium, smoking, high consumption of smoked or salted foods, and low intake of fruits and vegetables. Poor drinking water and a lack of refrigeration appear to contribute to the development of gastric cancer.

To explore how alcohol affects stomach cancer risk, researchers evaluated information from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. More than 400 cases of stomach cancer were diagnosed among study participants.

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  • Heavy alcohol consumption increased the risk of stomach cancer in men. Men who consumed an average of more than four drinks per day were 65% more likely to develop stomach cancer than men who were very light drinkers.
  • The link between alcohol and stomach cancer appeared to be stronger for beer than for wine or spirits.

These results provide additional evidence that alcohol use (particularly heavy use) increases cancer risk. Alcohol has also been linked with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, colon and rectum, and liver.

Reference: Duell EJ, Travier N, Lujan-Barroso L et al. Alcohol consumption and gastric cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011. Early online publication October 12, 2011.

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