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Study Links Alcohol Consumption to Premalignant Oral Lesions

April 26, 2006

When discussing oral cancer, dentists always mention the consumption of alcohol and tobacco products as increasing one's chances of developing a premalignant sore, or lesion, in the mouth.  These words, however, are meant literally:  Consuming alcohol and tobacco products in combination increase one's risk of developing an abnormal lesion.  Far less well established in the medical literature is whether alcohol alone is an independent risk factor.  In the April issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, NIDCR grantees and colleagues report the most substantial data yet that it is.  After evaluating 41,458 participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, a large, prospective cohort of American male health professionals - 58 percent of which are dentists - the scientists determined that alcohol was consistently associated with greater risk of premalignant oral lesions.  They found the risk remained constant in their analyses, regardless of drinking frequency, proportion consumed with meals, type of beverage, or tobacco use history.  In fact, the scientists found the association was strongest in those who had never used tobacco products, an indication that alcohol was an independent risk factor.

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014