In Germany every year approximately 2000 women die from squamous cell cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx or larynx. Until recently, excessive alcohol consumption and excessive tobacco consumption were blamed as the predominant risk factors. The present study investigated whether alcohol is an independent risk factor even in case of a moderate consumption in increasing the risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx and larynx in females.
In a hospital based case control study the smoking and drinking patterns of 62 females with squamous cell cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx or larynx and of 248 randomly selected female control subjects were analysed.
A regular consumption of alcohol was reported by 59.7% of the cancer patients and by 18.1% of the control subjects. The alcoholic beverages preferred by the cancer patients were beer and spirits. While only 0.8% of the control subjects reported a daily consumption of more than 30 g alcohol, this was the case in 40.3% of the cancer patients. The alcohol-associated risk increasing was dose-dependent. Compared to a daily consumption of less than 10 g alcohol, a consumption of more than 30 g/day has a relative risk of 29 (P < 0.01; adjusted for tobacco) was estimated.
Even a moderate alcohol consumption (10-20 g/day) causes a significant increasing of head and neck cancer in women.