Alcohol consumption blamed for more than 700k cancer cases in 2020, study says

A recent study says alcohol consumption caused 741,000 cancer cases globally in 2020.

The study was recently published in The Lancet Oncology.

Scientists looked at previous data from 2010 regarding alcohol consumption. They also looked at already-known data regarding the link between alcohol consumption and cancer.

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Results revealed that men accounted for 568,700 alcohol-related cancer cases and women accounted for 172,600 cases in 2020 with the majority of the cancers involving the esophagus, liver and breasts. 

"Alcohol use is associated with a vast range of injuries and diseases, including cancer, and is a leading risk factor for the global burden of disease," the study pointed out.

The study also pointed out that "heavy" drinking, more than 60 grams per day, attributed to most of the cancer cases. However, scientists noted that even drinking up to 10 grams of alcohol a day attributed to a number of cases. Regionally, the lowest number of cases were in north Africa and west Asia, but the highest number of cases were in east Asia and portions of central and eastern Europe, according to the study. 

Researchers proposed adding cancer warnings to alcohol labels similar to tobacco products. They also pointed that the World Health Organization even suggested "policies to increase taxation, limit purchasing availability, and reduce marketing of alcohol brands to the public" but that this proposal heavily depends on enforcement.

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"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 study’s authors said. 

Researchers also pointed out limitations to their study. They noted that they believe numbers are underestimated because it only took into account only cancers with strong evidence of alcohol being the cause. They also didn’t take into account if tobacco-using combined with alcohol use contributed to the cancers. They also aren’t sure if the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the reporting of cancer numbers due to the strain of the health system.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.