Heavy Drinking Associated with Increased Risk of Lung Cancer, Study Shows

  According to a study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, the avoidance of heavy drinking, be it of beer, wine, or liquor, may reduce the risk of lung cancer. The study was presented at presented at CHEST 2011, the 77th annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, in Honolulu.

   Stanton Siu, MD, and colleagues studied 126,293 people who provided baseline data from 1978 to1985 and followed them until 2008 to determine their risk for developing lung cancer in relation to cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, gender, ethnicity, BMI, and level of education. Of the 1,852 people who developed lung cancer during this time, results showed that cigarette smoking remained a strong predictor of all types of lung cancer; however, heavy alcohol consumption (> 3 alcoholic drinks/day) also increased lung cancer risk, with a slightly higher risk related to heavy beer consumption as opposed to wine and liquor.

   Dr. Siu and colleagues noted that the increased risk of heavy beer drinkers was concentrated in men (especially African American men), the heaviest smokers, and persons of lower education, while that of heavy liquor drinkers was concentrated in white men. The type of wine had no consistent independent relation to risk.

  “Heavy drinking has multiple harmful effects, including cardiovascular complications and increased risk for lung cancer, said Dr Siu. “We did not see a relationship between moderate drinking and lung cancer development. So it appears probable that most middle-aged and older moderate drinkers have coronary artery protection and no increased risk of lung cancer risk.”

   In a separate study presented at the meeting,  researchers from the Czech Republic investigated the relationship between smoking exposure, diet, exercise, and the risk of lung cancer. They found that black tea had a protective effect on nonsmoking women, while fruit had a protective effect for both men and women.