Alcohol drinking and risk of leukemia-A systematic review and meta-analysis of the dose-risk relation

Matteo Rota, Lorenzo Porta, Claudio Pelucchi, Eva Negri, Vincenzo Bagnardi, Rino Bellocco, Giovanni Corrao, Paolo Boffetta, Carlo La Vecchia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The association between alcohol and leukemia risk has been addressed in several studies in the past two decades, but results have been inconsistent. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify the dose-risk relation. Through the literature search up to August 2013, we identified 18 studies, 10 case-control and 8 cohorts, carried out in a total of 7142 leukemia cases. We derived pooled meta-analytic estimates using random-effects models, taking into account the correlation between estimates, and we performed a dose-risk analysis using a class of nonlinear random-effects meta-regression models. Stratified analyses were carried out on leukemia subtypes and groups, in order to identify possible etiologic differences. Compared with nondrinkers, the relative risks (RRs) for all leukemia were 0.94 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.85-1.03], 0.90 (95% CI, 0.80-1.01) and 0.91 (95% CI, 0.81-1.02) for any, light (≤1 drink/day) and moderate to heavy (>1 drink/day) alcohol drinking, respectively. The summary RRs for any alcohol drinking were 1.47 (95% CI, 0.47-4.62) for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, 0.94 (95% CI 0.77-1.15) for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, 1.02 (95% CI, 0.86-1.21) for acute myeloid leukemia and 0.93 (95% CI 0.75-1.14) for chronic myeloid leukemia. The subgroup analysis on geographical area for all leukemia combined showed RRs of 0.84 (95% CI, 0.76-0.93), 0.92 (95% CI, 0.83-1.01) and 1.32 (95% CI, 1.02-1.70) for studies conducted in America, Europe and Asia, respectively. We did not find an increased risk of leukemia among alcohol drinkers. If any, a modest favorable effect emerged for light alcohol drinking, with a model-based risk reduction of approximately 10% in regular drinkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-345
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Epidemiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Alcohol drinking
  • Dose-risk relation
  • Leukemia
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Epidemiology
  • Medicine(all)


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