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Alcohol May Help Prevent Kidney Cancer

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Updated: 4/10 11:54 am

May 15, 2007 -- Moderate drinking may make kidney cancer less likely.

That's according to a new study by Jung Eun Lee, ScD, and colleagues. Lee works in the medicine department at Harvard Medical School and Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Lee's team pooled data from 12 prospective studies on more than 530,000 women and more than 229,000 men.

When the studies started, participants had never been diagnosed with cancer, except for nonmelanoma skin cancer. They completed surveys about their alcohol consumption, eating habits, smoking, weight, and other factors.

Participants were followed for seven to 20 years. A total of 1,430 participants were diagnosed with kidney cancer during that time. Specifically, they were found to have renal cell cancer, the most common type of kidney cancer in adults.

Compared to teetotalers, people who reported moderate alcohol consumption were 28% less likely to be diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Moderate drinkers consumed at least 15 grams of alcohol per day. That's a little more than one daily drink. Heavy drinkers weren't included in the results.

The researchers considered participants' weight and history of smoking. But they didn't have information on all possible risk factors, including participants' family history of cancer.

Lee's team doesn't recommend that anyone drink to prevent kidney cancer.

The researchers note that alcohol has been linked to increased risk of other cancers, including oral cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, and esophageal cancer (cancer of the esophagus).

"Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking are the principle known means to reduce the risk of renal cancer that should be encouraged, and doing so may also reduce the risk of many other cancers as well as cardiovascular disease," write Lee and colleagues.

Their study appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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