Health – One study estimates that about four percent of all new cancers diagnosed in the past year were alcohol-related. That is 741,300 cases worldwide, with men being affected in around three quarters of the cases.
Not only risky and heavy drinking causes cancer, but also the consumption of around two alcoholic beverages per day, for example two glasses of wine. This moderate alcohol consumption accounts for every seventh cancer disease, as the authors led by Harriet Rumgay from the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) report in the journal “The Lancet Oncology”.
People in East Asia and Central and Eastern Europe are particularly affected, where six percent of all new cancers are caused by alcohol consumption. The lowest rates were in Western Asia and North Africa. At the country level, Mongolia has the highest rate at ten percent.
In Switzerland, alcohol consumption is estimated to be responsible for 1,900 new cancer cases (four percent). In percentage terms, Switzerland is on a similar level to Germany, Great Britain and Brazil.
Esophagus, liver and breast cancer
The study was based on the per capita alcohol consumption of each country for 2010. The researchers combined these figures with the estimated new cancer cases in 2020. Only those cancers were included in the calculations for which there was a well-established causal relationship from cancer and alcohol there. Most cases were therefore esophageal, liver and breast cancer.
While alcohol has been drunk less and less in Europe in recent years, a significant increase is predicted in other regions such as Africa and Asia, the researchers write.
It is urgently necessary to raise awareness of the connection between alcohol consumption and cancer risk in politics and the public, said Rumgay. A lower availability of alcohol, marketing bans, health warnings on alcoholic beverages and an efficient tax and price policy, as implemented in Europe, could therefore be effective.