Alcohol Study: A Slight Decrease In Booze Intake Could Reduce Cancer Deaths

A new longevity study suggests that reducing the alcohol consumption by just one liter per capita, per year would have a significant impact on not only the number of deaths from at least three forms of cancer in males and females, it would decrease the number of deaths from head and neck cancers for all individuals over 50.

Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) reported this week that researchers from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) have published findings from analyses of a 20-year population study of liver, pancreatic, and head and neck cancers, that proposes that individuals imbibing just one liter less each year would suffer a decrease in rates of the three types of cancers. According to the study, there was a 11.6 percent drop in male deaths and a 7.3 percent reduction in female deaths from head and neck cancers. Additionally there was a 15 percent overall reduction in male deaths due to liver cancer.

The study also found that the risk of cancerous deaths increase when individuals become 50-years-old and older. This suggests, the research indicates, that long-term consumption of alcohol only exacerbates the development of the cancers.

Researchers contend that individuals (in Australia) adhere to two standard drinks (to compare: a standard drink in the U.S. is equivalent to a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 shots of 80-proof whiskey) per day to ensure less risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes.

“There is no doubt that alcohol-related cancers would be significantly reduced if more of the population reduced their alcohol consumption and followed the national drinking guidelines,” FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said of the research.

Alcohol being served at a bar
Alcohol consumption: Barman pours a beer at a bar. [Image by LuckyImages/Shutterstock]

“The study exposes the need for improved public health education campaigns, better public health policies on alcohol, and more promotion of the guidelines – to reduce the toll of cancer-related diseases and deaths in Australia,” Thorn continued.

This is just the latest in a long line of research contending either alcohol is detrimental or beneficial to one’s health. In a listing of the pros and cons of drinking, Alice G. Walton, writing for Forbes in 2015, questioned the advisability of a then-recent review suggesting that life-long alcohol abstainers approaching middle age might want to start drinking a moderate amount of alcohol to cash in on its benefits. Walton noted that most experts seemed to agree that not enough evidence existed that suggested that the benefits of drinking moderately outweigh the risks, especially when entered into at later stages of one’s life. In fact, most people reduce their drinking at this age than start it.

[Featured Image by chaythawin/Shutterstock]