Alcohol-Related Esophageal Cancer Risk Is Reversible

Meta-analysis shows that risk from former drinking diminishes in 16.5 years

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The alcohol-related effects on esophageal cancer risk are reversible with cessation of alcohol consumption, according to research published in the July issue of Addiction.

Johan Jarl, Ph.D., and Ulf-G Gerdtham, Ph.D., from Lund University in Malmö, Sweden, conducted a literature review and identified 17 studies that estimated the risk reduction after quantified drinking cessation. Nine studies were included in the meta-analysis.

The researchers noted a large degree of heterogeneity between the studies, but this was explainable. A common trend in the studies was the reversibility of the increased risk of esophageal cancer caused by alcohol consumption, with a required time period of 16.5 years (95 percent confidence interval, 12.7 to 23.7) until no risk from former drinking remained. This estimation might be an overestimation due to sample characteristics. There was exponential decay with the dose-response relationship, meaning that about half the reduction in alcohol-related risk occurred after just a third of the time period required to eliminate the additional risk.

"The alcohol-related increased risk of esophageal cancer is reversible following drinking cessation. It is most likely that about 16 years are required until all elevated risk has disappeared," the authors conclude. "Due to lack of research and data, more research is urgently required to increase the robustness of the estimates and to approach study limitations."

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