Drinking Alcohol Can Increase Your Risk of Head and Neck Cancer

According to a recent article, a new study shows that by increasing your alcohol intake, you may actually be increasing your risk of head and neck cancer.

Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck cancers can form in a great number of places including the oral cavity, throat, voice box, nasal and paranasal cavity, and salivary glands. This adds up to over 30 places where cancer can grow just in your head and neck. These cancers make up around 4% of all cancers in the United States.

The Study

The British Journal of Cancer published the study that looked into this connection. The study specifically examined how the continuation and intensity of alcohol consumption affects the risk of head and neck cancers (which are fairly uncommon types of cancer).

Although alcohol has already proven itself to increase the risk of getting head and neck cancers, researchers specifically wanted to look into how alcohol amounts and continuation of alcohol use increase the risk.

Researchers looked at the reports from 26 studies from the INHANCE Consortium. Patients in the study included those who had never had a drink, and those who are currently still drinking with 10 drinks or less daily for up to 54 years. Of these patients, 24,234 were controls, 4,085 had oral cavity cancer, 3,359 had oropharyngeal cancer, 983 had hypopharyngeal cancer, and 3,340 had laryngeal cancer.


The results of the study proved that in all areas the risk of cancer drastically increased with the more alcohol that was consumed daily. For oral cavity, hypopharyngeal and laryngreal cancers, the risk did not differ when taking into account the number of years the patient had been drinking, thus meaning duration was not a factor for the risk. On the other hand, oropharyngeal cancer proved the risk did increase until 28 years, where it then had no effect.

These results are not saying that just because you drink alcohol you will get cancer, but they are just highlighting that large consumptions of alcohol will put you more at risk. Other risk factors for getting cancer include age, genetics, tobacco use, and more.

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