Open Access Research article

Time characteristics of the effect of alcohol cessation on the risk of stomach cancer – a meta-analysis

Johan Jarl124*, Gawain Heckley124, Julie Brummer2 and Ulf-G Gerdtham1234

Author Affiliations

1 Health Economics & Management, Institute of Economic Research, Lund University, Box 117, Lund 22100, Sweden

2 Center for Primary Health Care Research, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Lund University/Region Skåne, SE-20502, Malmö, Sweden

3 Economics Department, Lund University, Box 117, Lund, 22100, Sweden

4 Division of Health Economics, Department of Clinical Science, Lund University, Malmö University Hospital, SE-205 02, Malmö, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:600  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-600

Published: 20 June 2013



In the Bagnardi et al. (2001) meta-analysis, it was found that alcohol consumption increases the risk of stomach cancer (OR = 1.32 for heavy drinkers). However, it is unknown if drinking cessation reverses this alcohol-elevated risk.


A systematic literature review was performed to provide the information for a meta-analysis where the dose-risk trend was estimated for years since drinking cessation and the risk of stomach cancer. A random effect generalised least squares model for trend estimation was used, employing study characteristics to control for heterogeneity.


Nineteen observational studies were identified in the literature review, of which five studies quantified duration of cessation and risk of stomach cancer, giving a total of 1947 cancer cases. No significant effect of drinking cessation on the risk of stomach cancer could be found (OR = 0.99 CI: 0.97-1.02).


This result should be interpreted with caution due to the limited number of studies in this area. Recent findings suggest a link between heavy drinking and stomach cancer, especially gastric noncardia, but not for moderate drinking. Since all but one of the included studies in this meta-analysis failed to control for consumption level, the current study could not test if the risk decline following drinking cessation differs between moderate and high consumers.

Alcohol cessation; Stomach cancer; Meta-analysis