While it has been known for some time that alcohol can increase cancer risk, a new study was one of the first of its kind to look at the percent of cancer deaths at the state level.
The results give a good idea of the depth of the problem of how many cancer deaths are alcohol-related. In every region of the United States it is now clear that alcohol consumption is a risk factor both for contracting various types of cancer and for death from these types of cancer.
The direct link between alcohol consumption and cancer
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has published a wealth of information on how alcohol consumption harms different areas of the body. In these publications, the NIAAA also discusses the different types of cancer in which alcohol consumption increases a person’s risk of contracting the disease. Some of these cancers include:
- Head and neck cancer. People who consume 50 or more grams of alcohol per day (about 3.5 drinks per day) are two to three times more likely to develop certain types of head and neck cancer than people who do not drink alcohol. People who drink alcohol are particularly at higher risk of developing cancers of the oral cavity (excluding the lips), throat (throat), and larynx (voice).
- Esophageal cancer. According to the NIAAA, alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for esophageal cancer, mainly squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.
- Liver cancer. Alcohol consumption puts stress on the liver in many ways, as the liver is responsible for processing alcohol. Too much alcohol consumption leads to the accumulation of fats in the liver, which leads to alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcohol consumption can also destroy liver cells, leading to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). Finally, alcohol consumption increases the risk factors for liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
- Breast cancer. More than 100 epidemiological studies have found a link between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer in women. Quote from NIAAA researchers, “A meta-analysis of 53 of these studies (which included a total of 58,000 women with breast cancer) showed that women who drank more than 45 grams of alcohol a day (about three drinks) had a 1.5-fold risk of developing breast cancer nondrinkers get sick (a slightly increased risk). “
- Colon cancer. People who drink around 3.5 drinks a day are more than 1.5 times more likely to develop colon cancer than non-drinkers. For every 10 grams of alcohol per day, the risk of colon cancer increases by 7 percent.
While alcohol consumption is by no means a guarantee of developing cancer, there appears to be a scientific consensus that there is a link between alcohol consumption and cancer. And while it is true that the more you drink, the greater the risk; any Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer.
The safest way to avoid alcohol-related cancer altogether would be to avoid consuming alcohol.
At the state level
A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology found that while the US percentage of alcohol-related cancers varies from state to state, alcohol-related cancer was found in the US all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
At the lower end of the spectrum is Utah, where alcohol consumption is responsible for about 2.9% of cancer cases. At the higher end of the spectrum is Delaware, where alcohol consumption is responsible for approximately 6.7% of cancer cases.
The trend is similar for alcohol-related cancer deaths. Utah has the lowest alcohol-related cancer death rate at 1.9% of all cancer deaths. Delaware and Nevada have the highest alcohol-related cancer death rates, accounting for 4.5% of all cancer deaths. On a national average, the study found that “from 2013 to 2016, alcohol consumption was responsible for 4.8% of cancer cases and 3.2% of cancer deaths, or about 75,200 cancer cases and 18,950 cancer deaths annually”.
The study, which attempted to measure the government’s involvement of alcohol in all cancers and deaths from cancer, concluded that alcohol is a leading factor in cancer all Conditions.
Quoted from Farhad Islami, MD, Ph.D., researcher at the American Cancer Society and one of the study authors, “This information is important in prioritizing cancer prevention and control efforts at the federal level to reduce alcohol consumption and exposure to alcohol-related cancers. Health care providers and public health practitioners can educate the community to expand the current limited awareness of the cancer-related risks of alcohol use. “
Treatment of alcohol abuse
The people most at risk of developing alcohol-related cancer are people who drink excessively and meet the criteria for alcohol addiction. To protect these people from alcohol-related cancers and the many other risks and dangers of alcohol consumption, it is important to get them help through an inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.
Drug and alcohol rehab programs help recovering addicts address the underlying problems and struggles that led them to turn to alcohol in the first place. In addition, such programs help train recovering addicts in the tools, strategies, life skills, and know-how they need to face life without Turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism when various life challenges arise.
If someone you care about drinks too much and cannot stop drinking, please contact an addiction treatment specialist ASAP. Don’t wait until it’s too late for your loved one.