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Alcohol intake and risk of skin cancer: a prospective study



To investigate the association between total alcohol intake and intake of different types of alcoholic beverages in relation to the risk of basal cell (BCC) and squamous cell (SCC) carcinoma of the skin.


Prospective cohort study.


Follow-up data from a community-based skin cancer study in Australia.


Randomly selected sample of 1360 adult residents of the township of Nambour who completed a food frequency questionnaire in 1992 and were monitored for BCC and SCC until 31 December 2002.


No significant association was found between overall BCC or SCC risk and total alcohol intake, or intake of beer, white wine, red wine or sherry and port. However, among those with a prior skin cancer history, there was a significant doubling of risk of SCC for above-median consumption of sherry and port (multivariable adjusted relative risk 2.46, 95% confidence interval 1.06–5.72) compared with abstainers.


There are no associations between first occurrence of skin cancers and alcoholic beverage consumption. People with a history of skin cancer who consume above-average quantities of sherry or port may be at a raised risk of SCC, although replication of these findings in different study populations is needed to confirm this possible role of specific alcoholic beverages in secondary keratinocytic skin cancer risk.

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We thank the participants of the Nambour skin cancer study for their continued interest and support. We also thank Professor Gail Williams for her statistical support. Jolieke van der Pols was funded by a NHMRC Capacity Building Grant in Population Health Research (Grant number: 252834). This study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and World Cancer Research Fund International.

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Correspondence to J C van der Pols.

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Guarantors: JC van der Pols and AC Green.

Contributors: TMRA analysed the data and wrote the paper, JCvdP supported the analyses and wrote the paper, MCH and TI supported the analyses and assisted in writing the paper, GCM and ACG originated and designed the study and assisted in writing the paper.

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Ansems, T., van der Pols, J., Hughes, M. et al. Alcohol intake and risk of skin cancer: a prospective study. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 162–170 (2008).

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  • alcohol
  • basal cell carcinoma
  • follow-up study
  • skin cancer
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • Australia

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