135,000 alcohol-related cancer deaths predicted by 2035

Alcohol will cause around 135,000 cancer deaths over the next 20 years and will cost the NHS an estimated £2 billion in treatments, according to estimates from a new report by Sheffield University, commissioned by Cancer Research UK

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Image source: CRUK

The new figures, published today (Friday), reveal that by 2035 the UK could see around 7,100 cancer deaths every year that are associated with alcohol. Of the cancer types included in the report, oesophageal cancer is set to see the largest increase, followed by bowel cancer, mouth and throat cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer.

The report also forecasts that there will be over 1.2 million hospital admissions for cancer over the 20 year period, which will cost the NHS £100 million, on average, every year.

The results were based on analyses that assume alcohol drinking trends will follow those seen over the last 40 years, and takes recent falls in alcohol consumption, including among young people, into account.

Evidence suggests that the more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk of cancer. UK government guidelines, published earlier this year, advise that both men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

Read the full overview here

Read the full report here

Is alcohol consumption a risk factor for prostate cancer?

Zhao, J. et al. BMC Cancer. Published online: 15 November 2016

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Background: Research on a possible causal association between alcohol consumption and risk of prostate cancer is inconclusive. Recent studies on associations between alcohol consumption and other health outcomes suggest these are influenced by drinker misclassification errors and other study quality characteristics. The influence of these factors on estimates of the relationship between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer has not been previously investigated.

 

Conclusion: Our study finds, for the first time, a significant dose–response relationship between level of alcohol intake and risk of prostate cancer starting with low volume consumption (>1.3, <24 g per day). This relationship is stronger in the relatively few studies free of former drinker misclassification error. Given the high prevalence of prostate cancer in the developed world, the public health implications of these findings are significant. Prostate cancer may need to be incorporated into future estimates of the burden of disease alongside other cancers (e.g. breast, oesophagus, colon, liver) and be integrated into public health strategies for reducing alcohol related disease.

Read the full article here

9 in 10 don’t link alcohol and cancer

Cancer Research UK. Published online: 1st April 2016

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Almost 90 per cent of people in England don’t associate drinking alcohol with an increased risk of cancer, according to a new report commissioned by Cancer Research UK.

Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of seven different cancers – liver, breast, bowel, mouth, throat, oesophageal (food pipe), laryngeal (voice box) – but when people were asked “which, if any, health conditions do you think can result from drinking too much alcohol?” just 13 per cent of adults mentioned cancer.

The survey also highlighted a lack of understanding of the link between drinking alcohol and the risk of developing certain types of cancer. When prompted by asking about seven different cancer types, 80 per cent said they thought alcohol caused liver cancer but only 18 per cent were aware of the link with breast cancer. In contrast alcohol causes 3,200 breast cancer cases each year compared to 400 cases of liver cancer.

The report, produced by researchers at the University of Sheffield, comes ahead of the consultation closing on how well new drinking guidelines proposed by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers in January 2016, are communicated. These drew attention to the link between alcohol and cancer, and highlighted the need for greater public awareness of this risk. The findings are based on a nationally representative online survey of 2,100** people conducted in July 2015.

The study also showed that only one in five people could correctly identify the previous recommended maximum number of units that should not be exceeded in a day, as recommended at that time in 2015. Among drinkers, as few as one in 10 men (10.8 per cent) and one in seven women (15.2 per cent) correctly identified these recommended limits and used them to track their drinking habits.

Read the full commentary here

Cancer incidence and mortality attributable to alcohol consumption

International Journal of Cancer: Published online October 2015

Abstract
Alcohol consumption is a major cause of disease and death. In a previous study, we reported that in 2002, 3.6% of all cases of cancer and a similar proportion of cancer deaths were attributable to the consumption of alcohol. We aimed to update these figures to 2012 using global estimates of cancer cases and cancer deaths, data on the prevalence of drinkers from the World Health Organization (WHO) global survey on alcohol and health, and relative risks for alcohol-related neoplasms from a recent meta-analysis.

Over the 10-year period coCollection of Glassesnsidered, the total number of alcohol-attributable cancer cases increased to approximately 770,000 worldwide (5.5% of the total number of cancer cases) – 540,000 men (7.2%) and 230,000 women (3.5%). Corresponding figures for cancer deaths attributable to alcohol consumption increased to approximately 480,000 (5.8% of the total number of cancer deaths) in both sexes combined – 360,000 (7.8%) men and 115,000 (3.3%) women.

These proportions were particularly high in the WHO Western Pacific region, the WHO European Region and the WHO South-East Asia region. A high burden of cancer mortality and morbidity is attributable to alcohol, and public health measures should be adopted in order to limit excessive alcohol consumption.

via Cancer incidence and mortality attributable to alcohol consumption – Praud – International Journal of Cancer – Wiley Online Library.

Light/moderate drinking linked to increased risk of some cancers in women

Even light and moderate drinking (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) is associated with an increased risk of certain alcohol related cancers in women and male smokers, suggests a large study published by The BMJ today.

The study, which involved almost 136,000 people, found women who drank the equivalent of a glass of wine a day over a 30-year period were 13% more likely to develop one of the alcohol-related cancers (breast cancer being the most common) than women who didn’t drink at all.

The study found low to moderate drinking increased the risk of certain types of cancers already thought to be linked to alcohol, but only among women or people who smoked. Men who didn’t smoke and drank moderately had no increased risk of any type of cancer.

Full reference: Yin Cao et al. Light to moderate intake of alcohol, drinking patterns, and risk of cancer: results from two prospective US cohort studies. The BMJ, August 2015.

Majority of public unaware of alcohol’s link with cancer

More than half of the British public are unaware of the link between alcohol consumption and cancer, according to a survey from the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA). The UK- wide poll found that just 47 per cent of people were aware of any connection between alcohol and the disease. But an overwhelming majority (83 per cent) would back further nutritional and health information on alcohol labelling.

The results from the survey of 3077 people showed that nine in 10 (91 per cent) think that clarifying the health impacts of alcohol is important. But when challenged over their current knowledge, just under one in three (31 per cent) of people successfully acknowledged the links between alcohol and breast cancer. This stretched to half of people being aware of the links in relation to mouth or throat cancer.

The AHA is calling for health labelling to be made a legal requirement for alcohol products. Its campaign is pushing for every alcohol product to clearly describe its nutritional, calorie and alcohol content as well as make it clear through labelling that the safest option for pregnant women is to avoid alcohol consumption entirely.