During 2020, 741,300 new cases of cancer were attributable to alcohol consumption in the world. Of these, 568,700 were detected in men and 172,600 in women. A recent study from Imperial College London, published in The Lancet Oncology, found these and other data. For example, 346,400 cases were associated with excessive alcohol consumption; 291,800 for risk intake and 103,100 for moderate intake.
The areas with the highest number of cases of overuse were in southern and western Africa, as well as in central and eastern Europe. The onset of the disease was found to be more common in men who drank 30 to 50 grams (g) per day, and in women who consumed 10 to 30 g daily.
Regarding the types of cancer most detected for this cause, they were: esophagus, liver and breast. Likewise, among the areas with the most cases found are: Mongolia, China, Moldova and Romania. While the least amount is located in North African and Western Asian countries, including: Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait.
“There are several biological pathways by which the consumption of alcohol, such as ethanol, can lead to the development of cancer, including alterations of DNA, proteins and lipids or damage by acetaldehyde, the carcinogenic metabolite of ethanol,” says the study.
It also mentions that changes in alcohol consumption patterns at the global level, by region and sex, together with demographic changes, could mark this number of cases attributable to alcohol.
Solutions to avoid an increase in these cases
The Imperial College emphasizes in its study that there is little awareness in the population about the link between alcohol and the risk of cancer, so implementing warnings on the labels of products with this ingredient, similar to those carried by those that contain tobacco, they can make people consume less of it.
Increased public support for alcohol policies
The researchers felt that increased public support for alcohol policies would work. Precisely, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated that raising taxes, limiting the availability of purchases and reducing the marketing of alcohol brands are tactics that can be adopted to combat non-communicable diseases.
For this, the institution emphasizes that regulation is also needed, a process that cannot always be carried out in low- or middle-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa – the region with the most alcohol-related cancer cases – of the 46 countries that comprise it, only 16 have strategies on alcohol.