Cutting Back Now Lowers Risk Later

Esophageal cancer risks can almost disappear a few years after quitting drinking

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Heavy drinking, smoking, obesity and poor diet are not the building blocks for a healthy human. But change now and in a few years the body can repair itself.

A recent study looked at nine studies on the association between alcohol consumption and esophageal cancer.

Results found that five years after quitting heavy drinking the risk of this cancer was cut in half.

"Ask a therapist how to reduce alcohol consumption."

Johan Jarl, PhD, health economist at Lund University in Malmö, Sweden, led the investigation. A total of nine studies were included to determine the effects of quitting drinking on the risk of esophageal cancer.

The esophagus is the muscular tube that takes food once it is swallowed to the stomach.

Researchers found that risk for esophageal cancer from drinking alcohol completely diminished after 16.5 years of no consumption. Risk was lowered by nearly half after one-third of that time, but total loss of risk required the full 16.5 years.

Esophageal cancer has been associated with years of acid flowing back from the stomach into the esophagus, also known as acid reflux.

Smoking, heavy drinking, poor nutrition and obesity are known to increase the risk for esophageal cancer.

A previous study done in Latin America found that 28 percent of people with esophageal cancers had been smokers, 44 percent had been smokers and drinkers, but only 0.4 percent were heavy drinkers.

Light drinking, defined as 7 drinks a week or less, did not increase risk factors for esophageal cancer.

Moderate and heavy drinking showed increased rates of esophageal cancer based on how severe the drinking was.

This study was published in July in Addiction. No funding information was provided and no conflicts of interest were found.

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Review Date: 
September 13, 2012
Last Updated:
September 16, 2012