More than half of oral cancer deaths are due to alcohol consumption
BETHESDA, Md., USA: The latest cancer research has shown that an estimated 20,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to alcohol consumption, providing new evidence that alcohol remains a major contributor to cancer mortality in the country.
In seeking to determine the cancer risk associated with alcohol, the researchers reviewed a range of data on alcohol consumption in 2009 and 2010 and found that an estimated 18,200 to 21,300 cancer deaths (3.2 to 3.7 percent of all cancer deaths) were caused by alcohol consumption.
About 53 to 71 percent of these people, men particularly, died from upper airway and esophageal cancer, including oral cancer. Among women, the majority of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths were from breast cancer (56 to 66 percent), the researchers said.
In addition, they found that alcohol significantly reduced the life expectancy of those affected by up to 19 years. The researchers said that daily consumption of up to 1.5 drinks (20 g of alcohol) accounted for 26 to 35 percent of cancers attributed to alcohol.
Data for the study was obtained from the 2009 Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System, the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the 2009–2010 National Alcohol Survey.
According to the American Cancer Society, almost 560,000 people died from cancer in 2009. About 7,600 of these deaths were due to oral cancer, and more men (5,240) than women (2,360) were affected. Synergism between smoking and alcohol use results in a 30-fold increased risk of developing cancer, which is the second-most common cause of death in the U.S., exceeded only by heart disease, the organization stated. This year, about 1.7 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed and about 580,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer, almost 1,600 people per day.
The study was conducted by scientists at the National Cancer Institute in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration and several other health institutions throughout the U.S. and Canada. It was published online on Feb. 14 in the American Journal of Public Health ahead of print.