New Figures on Rates of Alcohol-Related Cancer

Alcohol consumption accounts for nearly 5% of cancer incidence in the United States on average, according to a new study from researchers at the American Cancer Society.

The team utilized the U.S. Cancer Statistics database to collect age-, sex-, and state-specific data on cancer incidence and mortality between 2013 and 2016. These data were compared with alcohol consumption prevalence from the same period, estimated using survey data and state alcohol sales data.

According to the investigators, more than 75,000 cancer cases and 18,947 cancer deaths per year were related to alcohol consumption, or an average of 4.8% of cases and 3.2% of deaths. There was geographic variance in the ratio of alcohol-attributable cancer. The highest ratio was found in Delaware, with 6.7% of cancer cases (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.4-7.0). Utah had the lowest ratio, with 2.9% of cases (95% CI, 2.7-3.1). Mortality from alcohol-attributable cancer also varied by state. Similarly, Delaware and Utah had the highest and lowest ratio of cancer deaths linked to alcohol consumption, or 4.5% and 1.9%, respectively.

Certain types of cancer had a higher proportion of alcohol-attributed cases than others. For example, the number of alcohol-related cases of oral cavity/pharyngeal cancer was higher than 45% in 45 states. Men had a higher proportion of cases and mortality than women, due in part to men consuming higher levels of alcohol.

“This information is important for prioritizing state-level cancer prevention and control efforts to reduce alcohol consumption and the burden of alcohol-related cancers,” said co-author Farhad Islami, MD, PhD, via press release.

This study was published in Cancer Epidemiology.