A new medical study published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet Oncology revealed that over 4% of all new cancer cases in 2020 were attributable to alcohol consumption. Lip and oral cavity cancer, laryngeal cancer and breast cancer (among females) and of course liver cancer were considered. The authors pulled details on alcohol use from recorded, unrecorded and tourist per capita alcohol consumption data and participants’ self-reports. Of the 741,300 new alcohol-attributable cancer cases diagnosed last year, men represented 568,700 cases, while women accounted for 172,600 cases, the researchers found. Nearly 47% of the alcohol-attributable cancers were linked 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. Moderate drinking , defined as 20 or fewer grams, or up to two drinks, per day, contributed to nearly 14%, or 1 in 7, cases.
“We urgently need to raise awareness about the link between alcohol consumption and cancer risk among policy makers and the general public,” said study author Harriet Rumgay, a doctoral student at WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, in a statement. The study was not supposed to have maximum accuracy. It doesn’t account for individual environmental, physiological, genetic and social risk factors for developing cancer. Additionally, the study didn’t “consider the synergistic effect between alcohol and tobacco. Cancer cases and alcohol consumption were highest in central and eastern Europe and eastern Asia. Between 28% and 45% of East Asian people carry a variant of the ALDH2 enzyme that has been linked with a higher risk of developing cancers in the upper aerodigestive tract, the authors wrote.