A recent interesting study evaluated the association between the intake of total fluids and specific beverages and the risk of kidney cancer or renal cell carcinoma in middle-aged British women
. The fluids assessed included not only water and other nonalcoholic beverages but also the alcohol.
Kidney cancer in women accounts for only 2% of cases and is quite rare. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity and hypertension play an important role in its development. Renal cell carcinoma comprises of about 80%-90% of all kidney cancers thus accounting for the majority of cases.
"Renal cell carcinoma" is also known as "Hypernephroma" or "Adenocarcinoma of the kidney". It is described as the presence of cancer cells in the lining of the very small tubes or tubules in the kidney. Most cases of renal cell cancer are detected quite late or by accident by the radiologist! While early detection can help in its cure by surgery, late detection can be lethal as it is radiotherapy and chemotherapy resistant. It was noticed that women who drank alcohol were overall inclined to drink more fluids. It had been earlier suggested that the protective effect of alcohol intake on renal cell carcinoma could be due to the diluting effect of carcinogens by a high total fluid intake.
Dr Naomi Allen of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University in the United Kingdom is one of the investigators in the "Million Women Study" which contradicts this theory. The "Million Women Study" was undertaken in the United Kingdom and it studied the effects of alcohol intake and its subsequent cancer risks. In this study, a questionnaire related to lifestyle and other personal factors was given to 1.3 million middle-aged women between the ages of 50-64 years who attended a breast cancer-screening clinic in the United Kingdom. Data was collected for about 5.2 years with incidence of 588 cases of renal cell cancer among 779 369 women. The possibility of association of renal cell carcinoma with the type of beverage consumed, which included tea, coffee, water, juices and alcohol, was assessed. The results of the data were modified according to the age, place of inhabitance, socioeconomic status, smoking, and body mass index besides other lifestyle factors such as smoking and hypertension.
It was finally concluded quite astonishingly that alcohol intake in women has been linked to decrease the risk of renal cell carcinoma. Evidently, this protective effect is not related to a high intake of other fluids. Researchers have explained the probability of moderate alcohol consumption safeguarding against the risk of renal cell carcinoma through its effect on the immune system, lipid peroxidation or its beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity. Reference:
Fluid intake and incidence of renal cell carcinoma in UK women; N E Allen, A Balkwill, V Beral, J Green and G Reeves for the Million Women Study Collaborators; British Journal of Cancer
(2011) 104, 1487-1492. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.90