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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Recent alcohol consumption and risk of incident ovarian carcinoma: a pooled analysis of 5,342 cases and 10,358 controls from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium

Linda E Kelemen1*, Elisa V Bandera2, Kathryn L Terry34, Mary Anne Rossing5, Louise A Brinton6, Jennifer A Doherty5, Roberta B Ness7, Susanne Krüger Kjær89, Jenny Chang-Claude10, Martin Köbel11, Galina Lurie12, Pamela J Thompson12, Michael E Carney12, Kirsten Moysich13, Robert Edwards14, Clare Bunker15, Allan Jensen8, Estrid Høgdall8, Daniel W Cramer34, Allison F Vitonis3, Sara H Olson16, Melony King2, Urmila Chandran2, Jolanta Lissowska17, Montserrat Garcia-Closas18, Hannah Yang6, Penelope M Webb19, Joellen M Schildkraut20, Marc T Goodman1221, Harvey A Risch22, , on behalf of the Australian Ovarian Cancer Study Group and Australian Cancer Study (Ovarian Cancer) and and on behalf of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Population Health Research, Alberta Health Services-Cancer Care and Departments of Medical Genetics and Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

2 The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

3 Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

4 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

5 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

6 Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA

7 University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX, USA

8 Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark

9 Gynecologic Clinic, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

10 Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany

11 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Calgary Laboratory Services, Calgary, AB, Canada

12 Cancer Research Center, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

13 Roswell Park Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY, USA

14 Magee Womens Research Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

15 University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

16 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

17 Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, The M. Sklodowska-Curie Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Gliwice, Poland

18 Division of Genetics and Epidemiology, Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, United Kingdom

19 The Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Locked Bag 2000 Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston, Australia

20 Department of Community and Family Medicine and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA

21 Departments of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA

22 Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:28  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-28

Published: 22 January 2013



Studies evaluating the association between alcohol intake and ovarian carcinoma (OC) are inconsistent. Because OC and ovarian borderline tumor histologic types differ genetically, molecularly and clinically, large numbers are needed to estimate risk associations.


We pooled data from 12 case-control studies in the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium comprising 5,342 OC cases, 1,455 borderline tumors and 10,358 controls with quantitative information on recent alcohol intake to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) according to frequencies of average daily intakes of beer, wine, liquor and total alcohol.


Total alcohol intake was not associated with all OC: consumption of >3 drinks per day compared to none, OR=0.92, 95% CI=0.76-1.10, P trend=0.27. Among beverage types, a statistically non-significant decreased risk was observed among women who consumed >8 oz/d of wine compared to none (OR=0.83, 95% CI=0.68-1.01, P trend=0.08). This association was more apparent among women with clear cell OC (OR, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.22-0.83; P trend=0.02), although based on only 10 cases and not statistically different from the other histologic types (P value for statistical heterogeneity between histologic types = 0.09). Statistical heterogeneity of the alcohol- and wine-OC associations was seen among three European studies, but not among eight North American studies. No statistically significant associations were observed in separate analyses evaluating risk with borderline tumors of serous or mucinous histology. Smoking status did not significantly modify any of the associations.


We found no evidence that recent moderate alcohol drinking is associated with increased risk for overall OC, or that variation in risk is associated strongly with specific histologic types. Understanding modifiable causes of these elusive and deadly cancers remains a priority for the research community.