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The increased risk of esophageal cancer that is related to alcohol is reversible after a person gives up drinking, but it can take up to 16 years to return to the risk level for non-drinkers, a new study concludes.

About one-half of the reduction in risk of the cancer can occur within about four or five years of quitting drinking, HealthDay reports.

“Fifteen to 20 years for a complete reversal of risk of esophageal cancer to take place sounds like a long stretch; however, the effect of stopping alcohol consumption appears to emerge shortly after cessation, which is encouraging and should provide extra motivation for the promotion of this life-style change,” researchers at Boston University Medical Center, who were not involved in the study, noted in a commentary accompanying the study in the journal Addiction.

The research was conducted by Swedish scientists, who examined the effect of giving up drinking on the risk of esophageal cancer in nine studies.

In addition to drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time, smoking is also a risk for esophageal cancer, the article notes.


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