Long-term heavy drinkers were 1.6 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than nondrinkers, according to researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
Reuters reported May 14 that researcher Mirjam M. Heinen and colleagues drew their conclusions from more than 120,000 self-reported surveys on alcohol consumption, completed by men and women ages 55-69. They found that those who reported drinking 30 grams of ethanol daily — about the amount of alcohol in four beers, three glasses of wine, or two mixed drinks — had an elevated risk of developing pancreatic cancer during the first seven years of a 13-year follow-up period.
No elevated risk of pancreatic cancer was observed among light or moderate drinkers, the study found. “If alcohol plays any role in the etiology of pancreatic cancer, it is likely to be among heavy drinkers,” the researchers concluded.
The study was published in the May 15, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.