November 17, 2008

Cigarettes, Alcohol Increase Risk Of Throat, Stomach Cancer

Dutch researchers reported on Monday that smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol may add to a person's risk of throat and stomach cancers.

Jessie Steevens, an epidemiologist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues reported their findings at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Washington.

Overall, researchers studied more than 120,000 Dutch participants for a period of more than two decades in order to determine their risks for Esophageal adenocarcinoma and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma -- a type of stomach cancer -- as well as Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, which resembles head and neck cancer.

While previous studies have made a similar connection between alcohol consumption, smoking and cancers, Steeven's team sought to refine the risk of the different types of the tumors.

They found that for Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma -- which accounts for about half of throat cancers -- people who consumed four glasses of alcohol each day had five times the risk of developing the cancer of non-drinkers.

Smoking was associated with an increased risk of all three cancers with the risks of the more common throat cancer higher than the other two cancers, Steevens said.

"These are the results when no other aspects of smoking were considered, such as the amount of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years a person smoked," Steevens said.

"When we took into account the smoking duration and frequency, it appeared that the difference in risk between former smokers and current smokers could partly be explained by these other aspects of smoking."

Stomach cancer remains the leasing cause of death and a serious threat to people living in regions of the world other than the U.S. and western Europe, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Stomach cancer rates have drastically dropped in the U.S. and in western Europe over the past 60 years.

Esophageal, or throat, cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the inner layer of the esophagus, the 10-inch-long tube that connects the throat to the stomach.


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