According to a study published in The Lancet Oncology journal, alcohol consumption was associated with more than 740,000 cancer cases around the world last year. India accounted for 62,100 cancer cases due to alcohol consumption, which is 5 per cent of the newly diagnosed cancer cases in India in 2020.
The Lancet journal said there is strong evidence of alcohol consumption causing various cancers, including those of the breast, colon, liver, rectum, oropharynx, larynx and oesophagus. It revealed that in 2020, an estimated 741,300 cases of cancer were caused by alcohol, globally, reported The Guardian. Harriet Rumgay of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, who also co-authored the study, said that alcohol's impact is often overlooked. There is a need to spread awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer, she added.
How The Researchers Calculated?
The calculation was made using existing alcohol consumption estimates for 2010, based on data on taxes and sales and other data such as risk estimates for cancers linked to alcohol. They also factored in a latency period between the year of alcohol exposure data and the year of cancer diagnosis since there is a delay between alcohol consumption and possible cancer development.
The researchers then combined these findings with existing estimates of new cancer cases expected for 2020 to estimate the number of cancer cases caused by alcohol. The disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic did not affect the study because the data were from previous years.
Few Key Findings
The result suggested that men accounted for 77 per cent (568,700) of cancer cases due to alcohol consumption in 2020. On the other hand, women accounted for 23 per cent (172,600 cases) alcohol-associated cancer cases. The research also found that the percentage of cases understood to be caused by alcohol was highest for cancers of the pharynx, oesophagus, and lip and oral cavity. The researchers said the estimated 741,300 cases caused due to alcohol accounted for 4 per cent of total cancer cases globally.
The findings suggested that North Africa and West Asia accounted for the lowest proportion of cancer cases caused due to alcohol consumption, with both registering less than 1 per cent. East Asia and central and eastern Europe had the highest proportion of alcohol-associated cancer. At the country level, Mongolia was estimated to have the highest proportion of cancer cases caused due to alcohol at 10 per cent, and Kuwait was estimated to have the lowest proportion (zero per cent) among all the countries.
China had an estimated 6 per cent (282,300) of cancer cases linked to alcohol, while Germany had 4 per cent (21,500 cases), UK 4 per cent (16,800), US 3 per cent (52,700) and France had 5 per cent (20,000 cases).
The researchers estimated 5 per cent of cancer cases associated with alcohol in India, which is 61,100 cases in the country, reported The New Indian Express. Earlier, The Lancet journal had noted that between 2010 and 2017, alcohol consumption in India had increased by 38 per cent – from 4.3 litres to 5.9 litres per adult per year.
Increased Alcohol Consumption In Several Countries
While European countries have seen decreased alcohol consumption per person, alcohol use saw a rise in Asian countries like China, India, and sub-Saharan Africa. These are worrying signs and the researchers called for greater public awareness and government intervention regarding alcohol consumption.
Moreover, during the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries have increased their drinking rate, Harriet Rumgay of the International Agency for Research on Cancer said. The researchers associated with The Lancet journal suggested that even low-level alcohol consumption can increase the risk of being diagnosed with cancer. To curb the growing consumption, the researchers recommended alcohol labels to have cancer warnings, imposing higher taxes on alcohol and reduce the marketing of alcoholic drinks.
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