Frequent drinking vs quantity of alcohol consumption increas
Frequent drinking and not the amount of alcohol consumed per occasion was a more significant risk factor for incident gastrointestinal cancers, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Although total alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, few studies have attempted to assess the pattern of alcohol drinking in association with GI cancers.

This study aimed to evaluate the relative association of the frequency of drinking vs the amount of alcohol consumed per occasion with the development of GI cancers.

A population-based retrospective cohort study used data from the Korean National Health Insurance System database on 11?737?467 participants without cancer who underwent a national health screening program. Participants were followed up from the year after their health screening date until they received a diagnosis of GI cancer, death. The median follow-up duration was 6.4 years.

Weekly alcohol consumption (nondrinker [0 g/week], mild drinker [0-104 g/week], moderate drinker [105-209 g/week], and heavy drinker [more than 210 g/week]), drinking frequency, and amount per occasion. Incident GI cancers at 6 specific sites (esophagus, stomach, colorectal, liver, biliary, and pancreas).

-- Among 11?737?467 participants (6?124?776 women; mean age, 54.6 years), 319?202 developed GI cancer.

-- Compared with nondrinkers, the risk of GI cancer was higher for mild drinkers, moderate drinkers, and heavy drinkers.

-- The risk of GI cancer increased linearly with the frequency of drinking in a dose-dependent manner.

-- In contrast, the risk of GI cancer appeared to increase with consumption up to 5 to 7 units per occasion, and then the HRs were no higher for those with a higher intake per session than 5 to 7 units.

-- Given similar weekly alcohol consumption levels, the risk of GI cancer increased with a higher frequency of drinking and decreased with a higher amount per occasion.

-- Risk patterns for 6 specific cancers were generally similar to that of all GI cancers.

Conclusively, in this cohort study, frequent drinking was a more important risk factor for incident GI cancers than the amount of alcohol consumed per occasion. Individuals should be cautioned about regular consumption of small amounts of alcohol in addition to the total amount of alcohol consumption or amount per occasion.