A Lancet Oncology study found that 4% of all newly diagnosed cancers in 2020 could be associated with alcohol consumption, the highest proportion, around 6%, in Central and Eastern Europe.
Drinking alcohol has been shown to damage DNA by increasing the production of harmful chemicals in the body and affect hormone production, which can contribute to the development of cancer. Alcohol can also worsen the carcinogenic effects of other substances, such as tobacco.
The global peer-reviewed study showed that alcohol consumption is linked to more than 740,000 new cases of cancer in 2020. Cancers of the esophagus, liver and breast accounted for the largest number of new cases. , followed by colorectal cancer and oral cancer. and throat.
To solve this problem, the researchers said, there is an urgent need to raise public awareness of the link between alcohol and cancers and to increase government interventions to reduce alcohol consumption in the most affected regions.
“Public health strategies, such as reducing the availability of alcohol, labeling alcoholic products with a health warning, and marketing bans could reduce rates of alcohol-related cancer,” said said Harriet Rumgay of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The local context, she added, “is essential for a successful alcohol policy and will be essential in reducing cancer cases linked to alcohol consumption.”
The study estimated that men accounted for the majority of cancer cases associated with alcohol, while women accounted for just over a quarter of the cases.
Among women, the highest proportions of cancer cases attributed to alcohol were estimated in Central and Eastern Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Among men, the highest proportions of alcohol-related cancer cases were found in Central and Eastern Europe and East Asia.
Despite the tax and tariff policies that led to a decrease in alcohol consumption in Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the East Asian region, had the highest proportions of alcohol cases. cancer possibly associated with alcohol, with 6%. In comparison, the lowest proportions were found in North Africa and West Asia, both below 1%.
While excessive and risky alcohol consumption led to the largest proportion of cancer cases, moderate alcohol consumption – the equivalent of about two drinks a day – accounted for nearly one-seventh of all cases associated with alcohol.
“Our study highlights the contribution of even relatively low levels of alcohol consumption to cancer rates, which is of concern, but also suggests that small changes in drinking behavior in public could have an impact. positive impact on future cancer rates, ”said Rumgay.
Contrary to these findings, the EU cancer plan presented in February deals only with harmful alcohol consumption.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]