november 2022

Cancer risk according to alcohol consumption trajectories: A population-based cohort study on 2.8 million Korean men


Alcohol drinking behaviors change temporally and can lead to changes in related cancer risks; previous studies have been unable to identify the association between the two using a single-measurement approach.

Thus, this study aimed to investigate the association of drinking trajectories with the cancer risk in Korean men.

Methods A trajectory analysis using group-based trajectory modeling was performed on 2,839,332 men using data on alcohol drinking levels collected thrice during the Korean National Health Insurance Service's general health screening program conducted between 2002 and 2007. Cox proportional hazards regression was performed to evaluate the associations between drinking trajectories and cancer incidence, after adjustments for age, income, body mass index, smoking status, physical activity, family history of cancer, and comorbidities.ResultsDuring 10.5 years of follow-up, 189,617 cancer cases were recorded.

Six trajectories were determined: non-drinking, light, moderate, decreasing-heavy, increasing-heavy, and steady-heavy. Light-to-heavy alcohol consumption increased the risk for all cancers combined in a dose-dependent manner (adjusted hazards ratio, 95% confidence interval for trajectories = 1.03, 1.02-1.05; 1.06, 1.05-1.08; 1.19, 1.16-1.22; 1.23, 1.20-1.26; and 1.33, 1.29-1.38; respectively [p-trend <0.001]). Light-to-heavy alcohol consumption was linked to lip, oral cavity, pharyngeal, esophageal, colorectal, laryngeal, stomach, and gallbladder and biliary tract cancer risks, while heavy alcohol consumption was associated with hepatic, pancreatic, and lung cancer risks. An inverse association was observed for thyroid cancer. The cancer risks were lower for decreasing-heavy drinkers, compared to steady-heavy drinkers.ConclusionNo safe drinking limits were identified for cancer risks; reduction in heavy intake had protective effects.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Bui T. T.; Han M.; Luu N. M.; Tran T. P. T.; Lim M. K.; Oh J. K.
  • Issue

    2022 Nov 26. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20220175. Online ahead of print.
  • Published Date

    november 2022