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Abstract

The role of different types of alcoholic beverage on cancer of the upper digestive tract was investigated in a case-control study conducted in the northern part of Italy on 305 male cases of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, 288 of oesophageal cancer and 1621 controls admitted to hospital for acute, non-neoplastic conditions, unrelated to alcohol intake. Similar significant trends of risk increase with increasing alcohol intake were seen for cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and oesophagus independent of type (or types) of beverage consumed. Among the heaviest drinkers (i. e. ≥84 drinks/week) odds ratios (ORs) of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx for wine only, wine and spirits, and combination of wine, spirits, and beer were 11.2, 9.9 and 4.1, respectively. Corresponding oesophageal cancer ORs were 15.0, 10.0 and 6.0. This study from an area with high wine consumption confirms that wine per se can greatly enhance the risk of cancer of the upper digestive tract and suggests that the most frequently used alcoholic beverage in each study appears to be the most important determinant of these tumours.