Cancer risk based on alcohol consumption levels: a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis

Seunghee Jun, Hyunjin Park, Ui Jeong Kim, Eun Jeong Choi, Hye Ah Lee, Bomi Park, Soon Young Lee, Sun Ha Jee, Hyesook Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Alcohol consumption is a well-established risk factor for cancer. Despite extensive research into the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer risk, the effect of light alcohol consumption on cancer risk remains a topic of debate. To contribute to this discourse, we conducted a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. METHODS: Our systematic review aimed to investigate the associations between different levels of alcohol consumption and the risk of several cancer types. We focused on analyzing prospective associations using data from 139 cohort studies. Among them, 106 studies were included in the meta-analysis after a quantitative synthesis. RESULTS: Our analysis did not find a significant association between light alcohol consumption and all-cause cancer risk (relative risk, 1.02; 95% confidence interval, 0.99 to 1.04), but we observed a dose-response relationship. Light alcohol consumption was significantly associated with higher risks of esophageal, colorectal, and breast cancers. Light to moderate drinking was associated with elevated risks of esophageal, colorectal, laryngeal, and breast cancers. Heavy drinking was also found to contribute to the risk of stomach, liver, pancreas, and prostate cancers, thereby increasing the risk of almost all types of cancer. Additionally, females generally had lower cancer risks compared to males. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight that cancer risks extend beyond heavy alcohol consumption to include light alcohol consumption as well. These findings suggest that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption associated with cancer risk. Our results underscore the importance of public health interventions addressing alcohol consumption to mitigate cancer risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEpidemiology and health
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Korean Society of Epidemiology. All rights reserved.


  • Alcohol drinking
  • Cohort studies
  • Meta-analysis
  • Neoplasms
  • Systematic review


Dive into the research topics of 'Cancer risk based on alcohol consumption levels: a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this