Alcohol and Cancer, new studies suggest greater links

A recent (July 2021) article on The Times website referred to research conducted, in part, at the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute (CFMHRI) concluded that an estimated 17,000 of all new diagnoses of cancer may have been associated with drinking alcohol. In also says that having one extra glass of wine a day may increase the risk of breast cancer by 6 per cent.

The study also suggests that moderate drinking (defined as having up to two drinks per day) may be an increased risk factor in up to one in seven of all new cases of cancer, over 100,000 cases worldwide.

This study was joined by one reported on the Independent newspaper’s website. Alcohol consumption and harm during the Covid-19 pandemic established that just over 12.6 million additional litres of alcohol were sold in shops and supermarkets in the financial year 2020/1 compared to 2019/20. This represents an increase of 24.4 per cent.

Moderate drinking is defined as up to two drinks per day, risky drinking is between two and six and heavy drinking is more than six alcoholic drinks per day.

Cancers that are most frequently connected to alcohol consumption are those of the oesophagus, liver and breast. Men accounted for 77% of alcohol-related cancer cases, with 568,700 cases, with women made up 172,600 (23%).

In the UK an estimated 16,800 new cases (4% of the total) were linked to all levels of alcohol consumption. The corresponding figure from the US was 52,700 (3%), Brazil was 20,500 (4%), India had 62,100 cases linked to alcohol consumption (5%), China had 282,300 (6%), Germany had 21,500 (4%) and France had 20,000 cases (5%).

Eastern Asia, Central Europe and Eastern Europe had the highest proportion of cases associated with alcohol, at 6 per cent. The lowest rates were found in North Africa and Western Asia, both at below 1 per cent. These rates were quoted in a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in Lyon, France and reported in The Lancet Oncology.

The CFMHRI research explained that alcohol consumption causes damage to DNA by increasing production of harmful chemicals in the body, as well as affecting hormone production, both of which can contribute to the growth of cancer. Alcohol also increases the effects of other substances that can cause cancer, such as tobacco.

The Mulberry Centre can help, wherever you are on your cancer journey. We offer emotional support, counselling, complementary therapies, workshops on a variety of relevant topics as well as more social activities.

If you want to know more and speak to us about your diagnosis or that of someone for whom you are close to or caring for, or you are  local grop or business who would like to hear more from someone about cancer, early diagnosis and treatment you can call us on 020 8321 6300 or email us on and someone will call you back.

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