Light alcohol drinking and the risk of cancer development: a controversial relationship.
BACKGROUND: In accordance with the scientific literature heavy alcohol consumption (>50g per day) represents a risk factor for several diseases development, including cancer. However, the oncogenic role of light alcohol drinking (<12,5g per day) is still unknown.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the scientific knowledge about light alcohol consumption and the risk of malignancy onset.
METHOD: To collect the scientific evidences regarding this topic the keywords "light alcohol drinking", "light alcohol consumption" and "cancer", were used. We decided to analyze papers published during the last 15 years, in order to select the most recent evidence. Meta-analysis with well defined levels of alcohol intake were included in the present review. Other studies that focused on biochemical, molecular and genetic aspects, as well as duplicate articles, were excluded.
RESULTS: Twenty-nine large meta-analysis were included in this review. Light alcohol drinking was not associated with an increased risk of cancer occurrence, with the exception of breast and prostate cancer and melanoma. Furthermore, a possible protective role of light alcohol assumption consumption on the development of bladder, kidney and ovarian cancer and Non Hodgkin Lymphoma was shown.
CONCLUSION: Light alcohol drinking was not associated to the development of several malignancies, except for a light increase of melanoma, breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.