Alcohol consumption may be positively correlated in a dose-dependent manner to increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC), which include basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), according to a study published in the Journal of British Dermatology.

Previously conducted studies presented conflicting data on whether there was a link between drinking alcohol and an increased risk of BCC, cSCC, and NMSC.

For this meta-analysis, study authors compiled data from 13 case-control and cohort studies that examined alcohol consumption and the risk of BCC or cSCC.

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The study found a significant positive correlation with every 10-gram increase in ethanol consumed per day and positive risk of BCC (summary relative risk [RR] of 1.07; 95% CI, 1.04-1.09) and cSCC (summary RR of 1.11; 95% CI, 1.06-1.16). A nonlinear positive association was observed between BCC and higher alcohol intake levels, but supporting evidence was inconclusive.

The authors noted that since the study did not adjust for confounding factors such as UV radiation, it was unclear if the risk of NMSC was increased by alcohol consumption or by the risky behaviors associated with drinking alcohol.

The authors conclude that “[alcohol] intake is associated with a modestly increased risk of NMSC in a dose-dependent manner for both BCC and cSCC. Given the high prevalence of skin cancer and alcohol drinking, modifying alcohol behavior may be a realistic intervention goal that can help substantially reduce the global NMSC burden.”


1. Yen H, Dhana A, Okhovat JP, et al. Alcohol intake and risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer: a systematic review and dose-response meta analysis [published online July 26, 2017]. Brit J Derm. doi: 10.111/bjd.15647