About 4% of cancer cases detected last year worldwide (or 740,000) are linked to alcohol consumption, including moderate, according to estimates by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published on Wednesday 14 July.
Most (86%) of these alcohol-attributable cancers are associated with drinking “Risky and excessive” (more than two alcoholic drinks per day), according to the study. But a consumption “Mild to moderate” (up to two glasses of alcohol per day) still represents “One in seven cases attributable to alcohol, that is to say more than 100,000 new cases of cancer in the world” in 2020, estimates in a press release the IARC, which depends on the World Health Organization (WHO).
It shows “The need to implement effective policies and interventions to raise public awareness of the link between alcohol consumption and cancer risk, and to reduce overall alcohol consumption”, comments one of the IARC officials, Dr Isabelle Soerjomataram.
Seven cancers listed
Published in the medical journal The Lancet Oncology, the study listed seven cancers whose risk is increased by alcohol consumption: oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon-rectum, liver and breast in women (or 6.3 million cases in 2020).
Crossing this with data on alcohol consumption by country ten years ago (by the time the disease onset), the researchers estimated that 741,300 of these cancers (or 4% of the total number of new cancer cases in the world in 2020) could be directly related to alcohol.
“In 2020, the types of cancer with the highest number of new cases associated with alcohol consumption were cancer of the esophagus (190,000 cases), liver cancer (155,000 cases) and breast cancer. in women (98,000 cases). “
Mongolia is the country with the highest proportion of new cases of alcohol-related cancer (10%, 560 cases). It is in Kuwait, a Muslim country where alcohol consumption is prohibited, that it is lowest (0%, 5 cases). This proportion is estimated at 5% in France (20,000 cases), 4% in the United Kingdom (16,800), 3% in the United States (52,700) or even 4% in Germany (21,500).
In addition, males account for about three-quarters of all alcohol-attributable cancer cases (567,000 cases).
The study has its limits, however, emphasizes The Lancet Oncology in a press release. On the one hand, it does not take into account the interruptions of care due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which may have led to the underdiagnosis of certain cancers last year. On the other hand, it does not integrate the interactions between alcohol consumption and other phenomena such as tobacco or obesity, to which cancers can also be attributed.