Alcohol Consumption And The Incidence Of Cancer And Mortality

Americans enjoy a drink now and then. Maybe more than that. Alcohol consumption increased significantly during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Previous research points to a link between alcohol consumption, cancer and mortality from all causes. Is this accurate and what is the impact of booze on cancer and death?

New research has looked at the linkage between the incidence of cancer and mortality across all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. In the findings, the research team has claimed that a significant portion of the incidence of cancer and mortality in all the states and in the District of Columbia can be linked with alcohol consumption.


In terms of cancer cases, Utah had the lowest correlation, at 2.9%, while Delaware had the highest at 6.7%. Not surprisingly, Delaware’s alcohol-related cancer mortality came in at number 1, registering at 4.5% of cancer deaths, while Utah was lowest at 1.9% of cancer deaths related to alcohol consumption. The findings were published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.

The study data point to generally higher rates of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths and cases in Western states and in New England, while both were lower in Southern and Midwestern states. The study was run by Farhad Islami, MD, PhD, and his colleagues at the American Cancer Society. It is the first study to attempt to estimate the contemporary proportions and counts of alcohol-attributable cancer cases and deaths across all states.


“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 Dr. Islami.

Of course, alcohol consumption could be more readily connected with certain specific cancers. Cancers of the oral cavity or pharyngeal areas, for example, were linked to alcohol consumption at rates ranging from a high of 62.5% in Delaware to a low of 36% in Utah. Across the country, 45 states had a 45% correlation of alcohol to oral cavity/pharyngeal cancers.

Breaking it down by sex, men seemed to suffer more alcohol-related cancers and died from them at a higher rate than women. This reflects, at least in part, higher levels of alcohol consumption by men.


Across the nation, alcohol as linked to 4.8% of all cancer cases and 3.2% of all cancer deaths. That breaks down to 18,950 cancer deaths among 75,200 cancer cases each year between 2013 and 2016.

In addition, the authors say, “healthcare providers and public health practitioners can educate the community to expand the currently limited awareness of the cancer-related risks of alcohol consumption.” The American Cancer Society’s guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention states that it is best not to consume alcohol; for those who do drink, consumption should be limited to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.


The take-away here is simple. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. Having a drink can be a stress-relieving activity for many people, especially if you enjoy that drink with friends or loved ones in an atmosphere of fun and relaxation.

Too much booze, however, can have a seriously negative affect on your health and your well-being. Drink safely and wisely.

Keep the faith and keep after it!

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Journal Reference – Ann Goding Sauer, Stacey A. Fedewa, Priti Bandi, Adair K. Minihan, Michal Stoklosa, Jeffrey Drope, Susan M. Gapstur, Ahmedin Jemal, Farhad Islami. Proportion of cancer cases and deaths attributable to alcohol consumption by US state, 2013-2016. Cancer Epidemiology, 2021; 71: 101893 DOI: 10.1016/j.canep.2021.101893

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