Principal Investigator Dr. Jurgen Rehm says that his study has shown an association between alcohol consumption and an increased risk for cancer of the oesophagus, larynx and oral cavity.
Dr. Rehm and his team analyzed epidemiological literature from 1966 to 2006, and found that the risk of oesophageal cancer nearly doubled in the first two years following alcohol cessation, a sharp increase that might be due to the fact that some people only stopped drinking when they were already experiencing disease symptoms.
The risk, however, decreased rapidly and significantly after longer periods of abstention.
Dr. Rehm clarified that the risk of head and neck cancer only reduced significantly after 10 years of cessation. He further said that after more than 20 years of alcohol cessation, the risks for both cancers were similar to those seen in people who never consumed liquor.
"Alcohol cessation has very similar effects on risk for head and neck cancers as smoking cessation has on lung cancer. It takes about two decades before the risk is back to the risk of those who were never drinkers or never smokers," he said.
Dr. Rehm said that further research was needed to determine what effects could alcohol cessation have on other types of cancer, especially breast, liver and colorectal cancers.