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Study Looks at Cancer Cases Attributable to Alcohol Use

In 2020, an estimated 4.1 percent of all new cancer cases globally attributed to alcohol consumption

WEDNESDAY, July 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) — An estimated 741,300 or 4.1 percent of all new cancer cases in 2020 were attributable to alcohol consumption, according to a study published online July 13 in The Lancet Oncology.

Harriet Rumgay, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and colleagues estimated new cancer cases attributable to alcohol in a population-based study. The contribution of moderate (<20 g/day), risky (20 to 60 g/day), and heavy (>60 g/day) drinking to the total alcohol-attributable cancer burden was also calculated.

The researchers found that of all new cancer cases in 2020, an estimated 741,300 globally (4.1 percent) were attributable to alcohol consumption. Men accounted for 76.7 percent of total alcohol-attributable cancer cases, and the most cases attributable to alcohol were seen for cancers of the esophagus (189,700 cases), liver (154,700 cases), and breast (98,300 cases). The lowest population-attributable fractions (PAFs) were seen in Northern Africa and Western Asia (0.3 and 0.7 percent, respectively), while the highest PAFs were seen in Eastern Asia and Central and Eastern Europe (5.7 and 5.6 percent, respectively). The largest burden of alcohol-attributable cancers was represented by heavy and risky drinking (346,400 and 291,800 cases [46.7 and 39.4 percent], respectively), while moderate drinking contributed to 13.9 percent of cases (103,100 cases); drinking up to 10 g/day contributed to 41,300 cases.

“In summary, we found that alcohol use causes a substantial burden of cancer, a burden that could potentially be avoided through cost-effective policy and interventions to increase awareness of the risk of alcohol and decrease overall alcohol consumption,” the authors write.

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