Alcohol consumption linked to 16,800 new cases of cancer, research suggests

Chris Evans reveals he's given up drinking alcohol midweek

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A global study looking into the association estimated there were more than 740,000 such cases in 2020, including 16,800 in the UK. Experts called for greater awareness of the risk and for government interventions to reduce consumption. The worst-affected regions include Eastern Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. Men were most at risk, accounting for 77 percent of all cases linked to alcohol worldwide, compared with women at just 23 percent.

Booze consumption has been shown to cause DNA damage through increased production of harmful chemicals in the body and can also affect hormone production.

Cancers of the oesophagus, liver and breast made up the largest number of cases in the study. Harriet Rumgay of the French-based International Agency for Research on Cancer said: “We urgently need to raise awareness about the link between alcohol consumption and cancer risk among policy makers and the general public.

“Public health strategies, such as reduced alcohol availability, labelling alcohol products with a health warning and marketing bans could reduce rates of alcohol-driven cancer.”

Research looked at intake per person per country for 2010 and combined this with data for new cancer cases in 2020, allowing time for the effects to be seen.

Risky drinking and heavy boozing led to the largest proportion of alcohol-related cancers. Moderate drinking, defined as around two drinks daily, accounted for one in seven cases.

Four percent of new diagnoses worldwide in 2020 were thought to be linked to drinking – the same figure as in the UK.The proportion ranged from a high of 10 percent in Mongolia to zero in Kuwait.

The figure was six percent in China, five percent in France, four percent in Germany and three percent in the United States.

Cancer Research UK chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “This demonstrates there’s still lots of work to do to prevent alcohol-related cancers.

“There’s strong evidence that drinking alcohol can cause seven types of cancer and the more someone drinks, the greater their risk.

“There’s no ‘safe’ level of drinking, but whatever your habits, cutting down can reduce your risk of cancer.”

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