FRANCE – According to a new study by Lancet Oncology, alcohol consumption is attributed to 4% of cancer reported patients globally in 2020.
The study also highlighted that men accounted for more than three quarters of the estimated cases, which were mainly linked to risky or heavy drinking, although one in seven of these alcohol-related cancers were linked to moderate consumption of around two drinks a day.
It further relayed that alcohol consumption was linked to the more than 6.3 million cases of mouth, pharynx, voice box larynx, oesophageal, colon, rectum, liver, and breast cancer reported in 2020.
The cases of cancer diagnosis reported were widely spread across the globe though a higher prevalence was seen in East Asia and Central & Eastern Europe while the lowest was seen in North Africa and Western Asia.
Based on the study, low awareness was attributed to the prevailing number of alcohol cancer related cases globally.
The authors point to previous research that found alcohol consumption causes DNA damage and can affect hormone production, which can contribute to cancer development.
They said limitations on the research included Covid-19 disruptions to health care, which may have led to fewer people being diagnosed with cancer last year than would be shown in their estimates.
A researcher of the study said measures like reducing the availability of alcohol, health warning labels, taxation and marketing bans “could reduce rates of alcohol-driven cancer”, calling for strategies tailored to specific regions.
Separately, Boniface, who was not involved in the study, said the results were broadly in line with other research and that scientists already know the links to seven types of cancers.
“Such policies have a strong evidence base for reducing alcohol harm,” said Sadie Boniface, head of research at the Institute of Alcohol Studies at King’s College London, in a commentary on the research.
Boniface also added that more emphasis should be put on low public awareness for breast cancer in particular.
In reference to Boniface’s remarks, data from the World Health Organization recorded a tally of 2.3 million cases of breast cancer with 685000 patients succumbing to breast cancer.
The WHO is actively trying to ensure breast cancer prevalence is averted by highlighting the avoidance of harmful use of alcohol.
It also has a program that is aiming to avert mortality related to reported breast cancer cases under WHO Global Breast Cancer Initiative (GBCI) that wants to have mortality rates reduced by 2.5% annually.
Under the initiative, WHO is advocating for the need of rapid diagnosis and public health education to improve awareness among women of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.