Lifetime and baseline alcohol intake and risk of cancer of the upper aero-digestive tract in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition (EPIC) study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Recent alcohol consumption is all established risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) or the upper aero-digestive tract. In contrast, the role or lifetime exposure to alcohol with regard to risk of SCC is not well established. Historical data oil alcohol use are available in 271,253 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). During 2,330,381 person years, 392 incident SCC cases (279 men and 113 women) were identified. Cox regression vas applied to model sex-specific associations between lifetime alcohol intake and SCC risk adjusting for potential confounders including smoking. Compared to men who drank 0.1-6.0 g/day alcohol at lifetime, the relative risks (RR) for developing SCC were significantly increased for men who drank 30.1-60.0 g/day (RR 1.65, 95% confidence interval: 1.00-2.71), 60.1-96.0 g/day (RR 2.20, 95%CI 1.23-3.95), and >96.0 g/day, (RR 4.63, 95% CI 2.52-8.48), and for former drinkers (RR 4.14, 95% CI 2.38-7.19). These risk estimates did not considerably change when baseline alcohol intake was analyzed. Compared to women who drank 0.1-6.0 g/day alcohol intake at lifetime, the RR were significantly increased for women who drank >30 g/d (RR 6.05, 95% CI 2.98-12.3). Applying similar categories, the relative risk for baseline alcohol intake was 3.26 (95%CI 1.82-5.87). We observed a stronger association between alcohol intake at lifetime and risk of SCC in women compared to men (p for interaction = 0.045). The strong dose-response relation for lifetime alcohol use underscores that alcohol is an important risk factor of SCC of the upper aero-digestive tract throughout life. (C) 2009 UICC


  • Cornelia Weikert
  • Thomas Dietrich
  • Heiner Boeing
  • Manuela M. Bergmann
  • Marie Christine Boutron-Ruault
  • Francoise Clavel-Chapelon
  • Naomi Allen
  • Tim Key
  • Eiliv Lund
  • Anja Olsen
  • Anne Tjonneland
  • Kim Overvad
  • Sabine Rohrmann
  • Jakob Linseisen
  • Tobias Pischon
  • Antonia Trichopoulou
  • Lars Weinehall
  • Ingegerd Johansson
  • Maria-Jose Sanchez
  • Antonio Agudo
  • Aurelio Barricarte
  • Pilar Amiano
  • Maria-Dolores Chirlaque
  • J. Ramon Quiros
  • Petra H. Peeters
  • H. Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita
  • Alina Vrieling
  • Valeria Pala
  • Domenico Palli
  • Paolo Vineis
  • Rosario Tumino
  • Salvatore Panico
  • Sheila Bingham
  • Kay-Tee Khaw
  • Teresa Norat
  • Mazda Jenab
  • Pietro Ferrari
  • Nadia Slimani
  • Elio Riboli
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology


  • pharynx, oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, squamous cell carcinoma, cohort study, epidemiology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-412
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch