Alcohol and cancer

Alcohol-Attributable Cancer Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States

Objectives. Our goal was to provide current estimates of alcohol-attributable cancer mortality and years of potential life lost (YPLL) in the United States.

Methods. We used 2 methods to calculate population-attributable fractions. We based relative risks on meta-analyses published since 2000, and adult alcohol consumption on data from the 2009 Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System, 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and 2009–2010 National Alcohol Survey.

Results. Alcohol consumption resulted in an estimated 18 200 to 21 300 cancer deaths, or 3.2% to 3.7% of all US cancer deaths. The majority of alcohol-attributable female cancer deaths were from breast cancer (56% to 66%), whereas upper airway and esophageal cancer deaths were more common among men (53% to 71%). Alcohol-attributable cancers resulted in 17.0 to 19.1 YPLL for each death. Daily consumption of up to 20 grams of alcohol (≤ 1.5 drinks) accounted for 26% to 35% of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths.

Conclusions. Alcohol remains a major contributor to cancer mortality and YPLL. Higher consumption increases risk but there is no safe threshold for alcohol and cancer risk. Reducing alcohol consumption is an important and underemphasized cancer prevention strategy. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print February 14, 2013: e1-e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301199)

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6 comments
Hmmm says February 20, 2013

So that means a daily glass of red wine is not good for me after all? D’oh!

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dearieme says February 20, 2013

I’m afraid that I’ll soon reach the stage of just assuming that every bit of bad medical news of the sort favoured by puritans is the result merely of incompetence and lies. This would doubtless be unfair to some workers, but as a rule of thumb it works very well amongst the Global Warmmongers, so why not among the epidemiologists?

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    Mangan says February 20, 2013

    The connection between alcohol and cancer has been known a long time and is a solid finding. I doubt that you’d find many medical researchers that would dispute it. The startling thing for me about this report is this: “Daily consumption of up to 20 grams of alcohol (≤ 1.5 drinks) accounted for 26% to 35% of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths.”
    I’d been under the impression that mainly alcoholics got cancer from drinking, but according to this, apparently not.

    Reply
    Mangan says February 20, 2013

    If you believe this particular study, that is.

    Reply
dearieme says February 20, 2013

My standard drink is about 125 ml of wine. If the wine is somewhere around 12.5% alcohol by volume, that’s 15 ml of alcohol and so approx 12 grams.

A few weeks ago my cardiologist told me that my habit of having my glass with dinner five or six times a week was too abstemious: he recommended a glass every day. I do vary it a bit: today it was milk with dinner but a half pint of bitter with lunch.

Anyway, bugger cancer – what’s the effect on all-cause mortality?

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JP says February 25, 2013

I love it when health news tells me to do what I like to do anyway, which is have a glass of wine with dinner!

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/02/at-least-7-glasses-of-wine-each-week/273473/

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