Physical Activity Attenuates Alcohol-related Cancer Mortality Risk

Sarfaroj Khan 

July 02, 2020

Takeaway

  • This study found a strong direct association between alcohol consumption and alcohol-related cancer mortality risk.

  • Ex-drinkers and drinkers beyond the guideline limits (at
    hazardous and harmful levels) presented significantly higher cancer mortality risks.

  • The increased risks were substantially attenuated among physically active participants who met at least the lower recommended limit (>7.5 metabolic equivalent task [MET]-hours/week).

Why this matters

  • Findings provide valuable evidence of the potential of promoting physical activity as an adjunct risk minimisation measure for the prevention of alcohol-related cancer.

Study design

  • This study included 54,686 participants (aged ≥ 30 years) using data from 10 British population-based surveys (Health Surveys for England 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008, and the Scottish Health Surveys 1998 and 2003).

  • Main outcome: alcohol-related cancer mortality.

  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key results

  • Compared with never-drinkers, the risk of alcohol-related cancer mortality was significantly higher among:

    • ex-drinkers (HR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.09-1.94);

    • drinkers at the hazardous level (14-35 UK units/week [women]; 21-49 UK units/week [men]) (HR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.06-1.83); and

    • drinkers at the harmful level (>35 units/week [women]; >49 units/week [men]) (HR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.13-2.31).

  • Occasional drinkers (HR, 1.21; 95% CI, 0.91-1.61) and drinkers within guidelines (<14 units/week [women]; <21 units/week [men]), (HR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.94-1.51) did not show statistically significantly higher risk of alcohol-related cancer mortality.

  • The increased risks were attenuated when participants in these drinking groups exercised >7.5 MET-hours/week:

    • ex-drinkers (HR, 1.25);

    • drinkers at the hazardous level (HR, 1.21); and

    • drinkers at the harmful level (HR, 1.52).

Limitations

  • Alcohol-consumption and physical activity may be misclassified as they were self-reported.

Feng Y, Powell L, Vassallo AJ, Hamer M, Stamatakis E. Does adequate physical activity attenuate the associations of alcohol and alcohol-related cancer mortality? A pooled study of 54 686 British adults. Int. J. Cancer. 2020 May 14 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1002/ijc.33052. PMID: 32406936 Abstract.

This clinical summary first appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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