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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