Alcohol consumption and the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma: A systematic review

Liwei Chen, Lisa Gallicchio, Kristina Boyd-Lindsley, Xuguang Tao, Karen A. Robinson, Tram Kim Lam, James G. Herman, Laura E. Caulfield, Eliseo Guallar, Anthony J. Alberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The evidence concerning the influence of alcohol drinking on the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) has yielded intriguing findings but has lacked a clear-cut interpretation due to inconsistencies. To unify this body of evidence, we performed a systematic review. With funding and using a protocol developed by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), 15 bibliographic databases were searched for epidemiological studies that reported a measure of association between alcoholic beverage consumption and NPC. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) for highest-vs.-lowest categories of total alcohol intake was obtained by using an inverse-variance weighted random-effects model. A dose-response trend was examined in models using generalized least square estimation. The search identified 14 case-control studies from 5 countries. For total alcohol intake, the pooled ORs in a comparison of the highest to the lowest category was 1.33 (95% CI: = 1.09-1.62) in 11 studies. Data from 6 studies indicated a J-shape dose-response trend, with NPC risk decreasing with up to 15 drinks/wk and increasing with higher intake. Fewer data were available to assess the associations between NPC and intake of beer, wine, and spirits. The potential J-shaped dose-response trend suggests a reduced risk of NPC related to the light alcohol drinking, an observation that warrants further study. Considered in total, the quantitative summaries of the case-control evidence suggest that heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of NPC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalNutrition and Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Oncology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cancer Research


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