Alcohol and Cancer: How Alcohol Consumption Affects the Risk of Developing Cancer

Alcohol and Cancer: How Alcohol Consumption Affects the Risk of Developing Cancer

  • 23.10.2023 12:32

Increased risk was observed even among those who consume alcohol in small or moderate amounts.

This is indicated by data from a new study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization, published in the Lancet Oncology journal.

In 2020, 1 in 7 new cases of cancer worldwide was specifically linked to alcohol consumption, totaling 100,000 cases globally.

The study was based on data on the impact of alcohol from nearly all countries in the world. In particular, it considered the results of surveys and alcohol sales data, which were combined with the latest estimates of cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption.

For example, the researchers cite Canada, where last year alcohol consumption was associated with 7,000 new cases of cancer, including:

  • 24% - breast cancer;
  • 20% - colorectal cancer;
  • 15% - rectal cancer;
  • 13% - oral and liver cancers.

"The main mechanism by which alcohol causes cancer is the impairment of DNA repair. Chronic alcohol consumption leads not only to liver cirrhosis but also to disruptions in the regulation of sex hormones, contributing to the development of breast cancer. Alcohol also increases the risk of head and neck cancer in smokers, as alcohol increases the absorption of carcinogens from tobacco," explains study co-author Dr. Kevin Shield.

The study demonstrates that light and moderate alcohol consumption is also dangerous.

"Any alcohol is associated with risk. For example, if a woman drinks a glass of wine a day, her risk of breast cancer is 6% higher," says study co-author Dr. Jürgen Rehm.

Among other things, doctors note that since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of people consuming alcohol has increased. They urge governments to further tighten control over the production and sale of alcoholic beverages.

In particular, it is proposed to add information to the labels of bottles stating that alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing cancer.