Alcohol To Blame For 7,41,300 Global Cancer Cases in 2020: Study

Cancers of the oesophagus, liver and breast contributed the most number of cases due to alcohol.

Health News
2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Cancers of the oesophagus, liver and breast contributed the most number of cases due to alcohol.</p></div>

You might have to rethink drinking too much alcohol.

Cancer is on the rise globally and in India. Blame it on the alcohol.

Over 4 percent of all new cancer cases in 2020, or an estimated 7,41,300 cases globally were attributable to alcohol consumption, according to a study published in the journal The Lancet Oncology.

The researchers studied the data on population-level alcohol use in 2010 and cancer cases in 2020.

Males accounted for 5,68,700 or 76.7 percent of the total cancer cases attributable to alcohol, while while women accounted for 172,600 cases.


How Much Alcohol Is Too Much

The largest burden of alcohol-attributable cancers, nearly 47 percent, was due to heavy drinking, which the authors defined as 60 or more grams of ethanol alcohol (the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages), or more than six drinks, per day.

Risky drinking - 20 to 60 grams, two to six drinks, of ethanol alcohol per day - contributed to 39·4 percent of cases.

Moderate drinking - 20 or fewer grams, or up to two drinks, per day - contributed 13·9 percent cases.

The highest rates of alcohol-attributable cancers were among men who drank 30 to 50 grams of ethanol alcohol per day, and in women who consumed 10 to 30 grams every day.

The Most Common Cancers

  • Oesophagus

  • Liver

  • Breast

Cancers of the oesophagus, liver and breast contributed the most number of cases.

Cancer Burden Across the World

The study found that the number of new cancer cases due to alcohol consumption varied widely all over the world.

The highest rates were seen in East Asia and Central and Eastern Europe and the lowest in North Africa and Western Asia.

The highest proportion of alcohol-related cases were estimated in Mongolia, China, Moldova, and Romania.

Cancer cases were lowest in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, "where religious-based policies have ensured that population alcohol consumption remains low and lifetime abstention rates remain high," the study said.

The Way Ahead

There is low awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer risk among the general public, the study says.

"We urgently need to raise awareness about the link between alcohol consumption and cancer risk among policy makers and the general public," said Harriet Rumgay of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, in a press release.

Here are some ways we can raise awareness according to the study.

  • Adding cancer warnings to alcohol labels

  • Policies to increase taxation, limit purchasing availability

  • Policies to reduce marketing of alcohol brands to the public

  • A good understanding of the local context for effective policy implementation

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