Drinking Alcohol Reduces Thyroid Cancer Risk
Drinking alcoholic beverages (beer, wine or distilled spirits) reduces the risk of developing thyroid cancer.
A country-wide population-based case-control study in New Caledonia found that thyroid cancer was negatively associated with drinking alcohol. That is, consuming alcohol was found to be associated with a lower risk of developing thyroid cancer among both men and women. Subsequently, data from almost one-half million (490,000) men and women found that increased alcohol consumption decreased the risk of thyroid cancer. Similarly, a study of women identified through the Cancer Surveillance System (CSS), a population-based cancer registry in Washington State, found that higher levels of alcohol consumption were associated with lower risk of developing thyroid cancer. A study of over one and one-quarter million (1,280,296) women in the U.K. that followed them for an average of over seven years independently confirmed that drinking alcohol is protective of thyroid cancer.
The way that alcohol decreases the risk of the cancer may be that alcohol protects the thyroid by helping it regulate the rate at which it releases hormones into the body, thus preventing any dangerous buildup in the gland.
Risk factors for thyroid cancer include:
- Being female (increases risk almost three times)
- Being exposed to radiation
- Being 45 years of age or older
- Personal history of thyroid lumps
- Family history of thyroid cancer
- Family history of goiters (swollen thyroids) or colon polyps
Early thyroid cancer often has no symptoms, but as the cancer grows, symptoms may include:
- A lump in the front of the neck
- Hoarseness or voice changes
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Trouble swallowing or breathing
- Pain in the throat or neck that does not go away
These symptoms are not usually due to cancer. However, anyone with symptoms that do not disappear within two weeks should consult a physician.
Drinking alcoholic beverages reduces the risk of developing thyroid cancer. In addition, the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health and greater longevity than is either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.
Drinking in moderation has been described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a man consuming four alcoholic drinks on any day and an average of 14 drinks each week. For women, it is consuming three alcoholic drinks in any one day and an average of seven drinks each week.
A standard alcoholic drink is:
- A 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
- A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
- A shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits such as vodka, tequila, or rum either straight or in a mixed drink.
Standard drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol.
There is no evidence that any particular form of alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, or distilled spirits) confers greater health or longevity benefits than any other.
Note: This website provides no recommendations for drinking alcohol and thyroid cancer or for any other health or medical matter and none should be inferred.
References on Thyroid Cancer:
- What Causes Thyroid Cancer? Drinking Alcohol and Cancer Risk http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/HealthIssues/1109728149.html
- What are the Risk Factors for Thyroid Cancer? http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_2X_What_are_the_risk_factors_for_thyroid_cancer_43.asp?sitearea=
- Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors http://www.cancer.net/patient/Cancer+Types/Thyroid+Cancer?sectionTitle=Risk%20Factors
- What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer? http://www.thyroid.org/patients/patient_brochures/cancer_of_thyroid.html
Readings on Drinking Alcohol and Thyroid Cancer:
- Allen, N.E., et al. Moderate alcohol intake and cancer incidence in women. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2009, 101(5), 296-305.
- Guignard, R., et al. Alcohol drinking, tobacco smoking, and anthropometric characteristics as risk factors for thyroid cancer. American journal of epidemiology, 2007, 166(10), 1140-1149.
- Mack, W.J., et al. A pooled analysis of case-control studies of thyroid cancer: cigarette smoking,and consumption of alcohol, coffee, and tea. Cancer Causes & Control, 2003, 14(8), 773-785.
- Meinhold, C.L., et al. Alcohol intake and risk of thyroid cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. British Journal of Cancer, 2009, 101(9), 1630-1634.
- Navarro-Silvera, S.A., et al. Risk factors for thyroid cancer: a prospective cohort study. International Journal of Cancer, 2005, 116(3), 433-438.
- Pochin, E.E. Alcohol and cancer of breast and thyroid. Lancet, 1976, 1(7969), 1137.
- Rossing, M.A., et al. Risk of papillary thyroid cancer in women in relation to smoking and alcohol consumption Epidemiology, 2000, 11, 49-54.
- General Readings on Thyroid Cancer
- American Cancer Society. Quick Facts about Thyroid Cancer. Atlanta, Ga. : American Cancer Society, 2009.
- Biersack, H.J., et al. Thyroid Cancer. Berlin, NY: Springer, 2005.
- British Thyroid Foundation. Thyroid Cancer: By Patients for Patients.
Harrogate : British Thyroid Foundation, 2010.
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- Zhang, Y., et al. Changing incidence of thyroid cancer. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 2006, 296(11), 1350.