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Keywords:

  • alcohol consumption;
  • extrahepatic bile system cancer;
  • meta-analysis

Aim:  Alcohol consumption increases the risk of liver cancer. However, there is still controversy regarding alcohol consumption and the risk of extrahepatic bile system cancer (EBSC). We performed a meta-analysis to provide an overview of the relevant studies and gain more robust estimates of the relationship between alcohol consumption and risk of EBSC.

Methods:  Relevant studies published between January 1966 and October 2010 were identified by searching Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library. Studies were selected using a priori defined criteria. The strength of the relationship between alcohol consumption and risk of EBSC was assessed by adjusted odds ratio (OR).

Results:  A total of 113 767 participants from 10 studies (nine case–control studies and one cohort study) were identified in this meta-analysis. The studies provided adjusted overall OR estimates for drinkers versus non-/low drinkers, leading to a pooled adjusted OR of 0.82 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.72–0.94, P for heterogeneity = 0.194, I2 = 27.2%). The overall adjusted OR of hospital-based studies and population-based studies were 0.80 (95% CI = 0.65–0.99, P = 0.260) and 0.79 (95% CI = 0.64–0.98, P = 0.119), respectively. For the heavy drinkers, the adjusted OR significance increased to 1.58 (95% CI = 0.97–2.57, P for heterogeneity = 0.055, I2 = 65.4%), but it had no statistical significance.

Conclusion:  There is evidence that moderate alcohol consumption lowers the risk of EBSC compared with non-/low alcohol consumption, but not heavy alcohol consumption. Further multicenter and better controlled studies are required to confirm these findings.