Alcohol consumption linked to cancer death risk

A decrease in Australia's population-level drinking would reduce cancer deaths.

Alcohol linked to cancer risk

A new study from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) suggests for the first time that a decrease in Australia's population-level drinking would reduce the prevalence of cancer deaths, particularly among men and over 50s.

The study examined data from different genders and age groups between 1968 and 2011, and measured the effect of a reduction in population drinking. The research showed that a one litre decrease in annual alcohol consumption per person per year was associated with reductions in head and neck cancer mortality of 11.6 per cent in men and 7.3 per cent in women.

This association was strongest in both men and women over the age of 50, reflecting the long-term effects of significant alcohol consumption on the body and the development of cancer.

This is the first study of its kind to recognise the risk factors of alcohol consumption at the overall population effect level, with all previous studies addressing individual-level studies.

The research showed that alcohol was to blame for 6.5 per cent of all male and 4.1 per cent of all female head and neck cancer deaths in the past 50 years, while also responsible for 8.4 per cent of all male liver cancer deaths.

"This study exposes the need for improved public health education campaigns, better public health policies on alcohol, and more promotion of the guidelines – to reduce the toll of cancer-related diseases and deaths in Australia," said FARE chief executive Michael Thorn.

What do you think? Are these grim findings enough to cut down your alcohol consumption?

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    Ted Wards
    26th Sep 2017
    Why is it then that there are lots of drinks available to purchase now with low alcohol content, yet they are not offered for sale at pubs and clubs and not promoted within stores where alcohol is sold? Its not because they wouldn't make any money on them, they are the same price as alcoholic drinks?
    26th Sep 2017
    Cue anecdotal 'evidence' of the "I know someone who never touched a drop and dropped dead of neck cancer at 49" or " my uncle drank like a fish and died in his sleep at 104" type.
    26th Sep 2017
    Red wine and a shot of whisky is good for me but alcohol is not. Ok that doesn't make much sense. I'm going with option one , red wine and Whisky.
    26th Sep 2017
    Without any science behind me, I reckon your are on pretty good ground Tib, if consuption is moderate.

    The article doesn't give much away concerning the sampling but taken as read you wouldnt have to be very moderate to continue enjoying a scotch or two.

    It discusses the results of a 1 litre per year reduction. Hardly a great volume with relatively low alcohol drinks (unless it is 1 litre of pure alcohol content. Then again, it could presently be 32 litres less than the 1968 level and that looks like quite a lot or a terrible lot if it is the alcohol content. Still, you probably dont need to worry too much about that as specifying a reduction rate over so long would not tell you much about the level of a consistent rate of reasonably harmless intake. That is all aside from a more significant concern with the study which is how it may have managed to take into account the impact of other factors possibly more prevalent with avid alcohol smoking (which also contributes to 'neck' cancers.)

    It won't keep me from my 1 or 2 drinks every few years.
    26th Sep 2017
    I'm not taking this stuff too serious. I usually have two to 3 drinks daily. It's one of life's small pleasures. It makes me forget my arthritis. If I end up in the grave a couple of years early who cares It will be worth it. I'm pretty sure the people who do these studies haven't got a clue. One thing I'm sure this life will kill me in the end and I'm all for having a good time, not listening to people who do studies.
    Dave V
    26th Sep 2017
    It would have been helpful if the article had talked about what 1 litre of alcohol looks like in terms of what we actually drink. How much beer is it? How much wine is it? Why is it only head and neck cancer? Did they test for other cancers? These little articles which seem to be only telling part of the story, and almost seem to be cherry picking results fill me with suspicion.
    Chris G
    26th Sep 2017
    I too am dubious about the findings!

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