Alcohol does not directly affect an individual’s risk of developing urothelial cell carcinoma (UCC), though high alcohol intake and smoking may raise this risk among men, according to an article published in the International Journal of Cancer.1

UCC, which is more common in the developed world and among men, is directly linked to smoking and arsenic in drinking water, but no distinct link between UCC and alcohol intake is established.

For this study, researchers analyzed data from 476,160 individuals in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort to determine any link between alcohol intake and UCC risk. Data were compared against gender and smoking status, and the researchers distinguished between aggressive and non-aggressive UCC cases.

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The mean recruitment age was 51.2 years; just over 70% of the participants were female; median follow-up was 13.9 years. The researchers recorded 1802 UCC cases (1273 in men and 529 in women), 871 of which were aggressive.

No significant difference was found between baseline alcohol intake and UCC risk.

The hazard ratio (HR) among men drinking more than 96 grams of alcohol per day was 1.57 compared with those drinking less than 6 grams per day. Men who drink between 6 and 24 grams per day are also at an increased risk of aggressive UCC.

Male smokers who drank more than 96 grams per day were at the greatest risk in this cohort (HR, 1.82) compared with those who drank less than 6 grams per day.

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The authors concluded that these “findings do not suggest a clear detrimental effect of alcohol consumption on bladder cancer risk. Residual confounding by smoking might explain the association between high intakes of alcohol and the increase in UCC risk observed in men and in smokers.”


  1. Botteri E, Ferrari P, Roswall N, et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of urothelial cell bladder cancer in the European Prospective Investigation