Vol. 10, No. 1  August 1998

NTP to Review Alcoholic Beverages as Possible Carcinogens

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) announced in February its intention to review alcoholic beverages for listing in the federal government’s Ninth Report on Carcinogens. Considering the well-established association of alcohol consumption and certain cancers, this review — and listing — is long overdue. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), another entity that evaluates human carcinogens, took the logical step to list alcoholic beverages as a likely human carcinogen more than a decade ago.

Numerous studies document a strong association between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and human cancers, including those of the esophagus, pharynx, mouth, liver, breast, and colon. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, between 2 and 4 percent of all cancer cases in the United States are caused either directly or indirectly by alcohol. The American Cancer Society reports that 19,000 cancer deaths are related to alcohol use. Both the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recognize the relationship in the current edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

CSPI submitted preliminary comments to the NTP, urging the listing of alcoholic beverages as a human carcinogen in the upcoming Ninth Report. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the review process will involve a multiphased, peer review process involving two Federal scientific review groups and one non-government scientific peer review body which will meet in an open, public meeting that will provide for public comments.

Further information about the process and opportunities to provide information and participate can be obtained from Dr. C.W. Jameson, NTP, phone: (919) 541-4096 or e-mail: <jameson@niehs.nih.gov>.

WB01344_.gif (644 bytes)    WB01343_.gif (599 bytes)    WB01345_.gif (616 bytes)