New research establishes another risk factor for skin cancer. In this case, the skin cancer being studied was basal-cell carcinoma (BCC), which along with squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) are often referred to as common skin cancer or non-melanoma skin cancer.
The researchers used a cohort of 167, 765 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, and 43,697 men from the Health Professionals follow-up study. Alcohol intake was assessed each 2-4 years during 1984-2010 for the women and 1986-2010 for the men. Non-drinkers served as the referent, or control for comparison.
For those who consumed 109.9 grams of alcohol daily, the risk of BCC was increased by 13%; 24% for those who consumed 10-19.9 grams daily; 27% for those who consumed 20-29 grams daily, and 22% for those who consumed more than 30 grams daily. In a secondary study that looked at the type of alcohol, white wine and liquor were closely associated with BCC.
The researchers make this conclusion: “Alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of cutaneous BCC in both women and men.”
As I see it, there are two important messages to glean from this research:
- To help prevent skin cancer, give up alcoholic drinks. We have talked about other nutritional protections for melanoma on previous blogs. Alcohol is also a risk factor for melanoma.
- There are many causes of skin cancer, and we should stop blaming the sun for that disease, whether BCC, SCC or melanoma. If we eat correctly and eschew the booze, moderate sunlight exposure is a friend to our skin.
 Wu S, Li W, Qureshi A, Cho E, Alcohol consumption and risk of cutaneous basal cell carcinoma in women and men: 3 prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Sep 30. pii: ajcn115196. [Epub ahead of print].