Alcohol-Associated Cancers

In 2018, more than half of adults in Texas reported consuming alcohol in the past month. Approximately 6% of Texans reported heavy drinking (15 or more drinks per week for men or 8 or more drinks per week for women), and 17% reported binge drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women). Under the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that alcohol use be limited to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with numerous health problems.

Alcohol consumption is known to increase the risk of the following types of cancer: oral cavity & pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, colon & rectum, liver, and female breast. While risk of these cancers generally increases with the amount of alcohol consumed, even moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to increased risk of certain cancers.

Although not all cases of these cancers can be attributed to alcohol use, alcohol is a key modifiable risk factor, likely contributing to 5.6% of all cancer cases. This ranks alcohol as the third leading preventable cause of cancer, after cigarette smoking and excess body weight.

The link between alcohol consumption and cancer risk is complex and involves direct damage to cells, altered absorption of nutrients, hormonal changes, interaction with other harmful chemicals such as tobacco smoke, and effects on body weight.

To quantify rates and trends of alcohol-associated cancers in Texas, age-adjusted incidence rates for Texas were calculated for 2013-2017. Note that the correlation between individual-level alcohol use and cancer risk was not assessed. The average annual percentage change (AAPC) in age-adjusted incidence rates from 2008-2017 was used to assess whether rates increased, decreased, or remained stable over time.


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