According to a study published by The Lancet Oncology journal, alcohol consumption was linked with 62,100, or five percent, of all newly diagnosed cancer cases in India last year. This is despite the fact that alcohol abuse is on the rise. The researchers discovered that alcohol consumption may have been responsible for more than 740,000 new cases of cancer in 2020, or 4 percent.
According to the study, men account for 77% (568,700) of alcohol-related cancer cases. This is in contrast to women who account for 23% (272,600). The most cases were from the breast, liver and oesophagus.
It is based on data from prior years and shows that there were more than 63,000 cases of mouth, voice box, liver, colon, rectum, and breast cancer in 2020. These cancers are well-known to have strong causal links to alcohol intake. The new study estimates the direct associations with alcohol for 2020.
According to Harriet Rumgay, France’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), “Trends suggest there is a decrease of alcohol consumption per head in many European countries but alcohol use is on a rise in Asian countries like China and India and sub-Saharan Africa,” she said. Rumgay stated that there are also evidence to suggest that some countries have seen an increase in drinking rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers call for increased public awareness about the links between alcohol and cancers, and government intervention to reduce alcohol consumption in the worst-affected areas. Although the study shows that even low levels of alcohol can contribute to cancer rates, it also suggests that minor changes in public drinking habits could have a positive impact on future cancer rates.
According to researchers, alcohol consumption can cause DNA damage by increasing the production of harmful chemicals and affect hormone production. This could lead to cancer development. They also said that alcohol can worsen the effects of tobacco and other cancer-causing substances.
Researchers determined the alcohol intake per capita per country in the new study for 2010. This allowed for possible effects on cancer development. The researchers then combined these data with 2020 cases of cancer to determine the number of alcohol-related cancers in each country.
Moderate drinking is defined as drinking up to two alcoholic beverages per day. Risky drinking refers to drinking between two and six alcoholic beverages per day. Heavy drinking refers to drinking more than six alcoholic beverages per day. The researchers estimated that alcohol consumption was responsible for 4 percent (741,300), of all cases of new cancers in 2020.
Researchers found that heavy drinking and risky drinking were the leading causes of cancer at 39% (291,800 and 47% (346,400), respectively. Moderate drinking was also problematic. It was estimated that 14% (103,100) of all alcohol-caused cancer cases were due to moderate drinking.
The highest percentages of alcohol-related cancers in Eastern Asia and Central and Eastern Europe were at 6 percent. This compares to the 6% found in Western Asia and Northern Africa, which are both below 1%. The country-level estimates of the percentages of alcohol-related cancer cases were highest in Mongolia (10%) and lowest in Kuwait (0%)
India was home to 5 percent (62,100) of all cancer cases due to alcohol. China had 6 per cent (282.300), Germany had 4 per cent (21,500 cases), and France had 5% (20,000 cases). There were 4 percent of cases of alcohol-related cancer in the UK (16,800), while there was 3 per cent (52,700) and 4 per cent (20,000.50 cases respectively).
Rumgay stated that “we urgently need raise awareness about alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer among policymakers and the general population.” Rumgay noted that public health strategies such as reducing alcohol availability, labelling alcohol products and banning marketing could help reduce the incidence of alcohol-driven cancer.
They suggested that pricing and tax policies that have resulted in a decrease in alcohol intake in Europe (including increased excise taxes, minimum unit pricing) could be applied in other regions.