Low levels of alcohol intake have been found to decrease risk of esophageal cancer.

The exact cause of esophageal cancer is not known. Previous research has stated it is more common in people with acid-reflux, and people with acid-reflux tend to be obese.

Other factors can also increase the risk such as:

  • Gender. It is more common in men than women.
  • Age. People over the age of 45 are at a greater risk.
  • Smoking. Amount of tobacco used and how long it is used affects risk.
  • Alcohol. Drinking a large amount over a long period of time.
  • Diet. Low fruit and vegetable diet increases risk.
  • Obesity. Being overweight can put you at a higher risk.

This particular research was based on 17 studies with information regarding giving up alcohol and risks of esophageal cancer. The authors discovered that alcohol-related risk of esophageal cancer is changeable after stopping alcohol intake, taking 16 years to return to non-drinking risk levels. They believe one half of the decrease in risk of cancer could occur within 4 to 5 years.

One limitation for this study could be smoking adjustments: most upper aero-digestive cancers show a meaningful interaction between alcohol consumption and smoking in relation to cancer risk. Another is large differences that were found in the alcohol-cancer association for different regions. Also, the authors did not have data for the separation of ex-drinkers and non-drinkers, as well as no guidelines for the baseline pattern of drinking.

The important conclusion is that quitting drinking may decrease risk of esophageal cancer. Other studies suggest just reducing alcohol intake to a moderate level can be associated with lowering of cancer risk for non-smokers. Low level alcohol consumption has also been seen to have advantageous effects on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other medical conditions.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald