Study on alcohol-linked cancers in Nordic region

Teetotalism would crop 5.5% cases in 30 years

11 May 2018, 00:33

  DF Report

File Photo Visit Finland.

More than 13,000 cancer cases linked to drinking among the Finns and 83,000 among the Nordics could be avoided in 30 years, if alcohol consumption can be eliminated, said a research report published in the European Journal of Cancer (EJC) on May 5.

These figures correspond to 5.5 per cent of the six types of cancers causally linked to alcohol consumption.

According to the report headlined ‘Avoidable cancers in the Nordic countries—the impact of alcohol consumption,’ with a 50% reduction in the proportion with moderate alcohol consumption, 21,500 cancer cases could be avoided by year 2025. The number of avoidable cases was the highest for post-menopausal breast and colorectal cancer, but the percentage was the highest for oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

A multinational team led by Therese M-L Anderssona of the Karolinska Institutet of Sweden carried out the research aimed mainly at quantifying the proportion of cancer burden in the Nordic countries linked to alcohol consumption and estimating the potential for cancer prevention by bringing changes in drinking habits and practices.

Using the ‘Prevent’ macro-simulation model, the number of cancer cases in the Nordic countries over a 30-year period (2016–2045) was modelled under the study for six types of cancer under different scenarios of changing alcohol consumption, and was compared to the projected number of cases if constant alcohol consumption prevailed. The studied cancer types were colorectal, post-menopausal breast, oral cavity and pharynx, liver, larynx as well as oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma. The alcohol consumption was based on the categories of non-drinkers/occasional drinkers, light drinkers (<=12.5 g alcohol per day), moderate drinkers (>12.5 and ≤ 50 g/day) and heavy drinkers (>50 g/day).

The study says, if the Finnish people quit drinking, it would decrease a significant number of esophageal cancer cases accounting for 23 per cent of them, while teetotalism would prevent some 5,000 instances of breast cancer and 3,200 cases of mouth and throat cancers, reported the national broadcaster Yle quoting the research report.

“Alcohol is the main factor contributing to a number of cancers. Around a quarter of throat and esophageal cancers are caused by alcohol,” said the Yle report quoting Eero Pukkala, research director at the Finnish Cancer Registry.

Finnish Cancer Registry is one of the 10 Nordic agencies and institutes that collaborated in the research. The rest of the organizations are Danish Cancer Society, Danish Cancer Registry, the University of Tampere, Karolinska Institutet of Sweden, Icelandic Cancer Registry, the University of Iceland, the Cancer Registry of Norway, the Folkhälsan Research Centre of Finland, and the Arctic University of Norway.

Eero Pukkala said about 100 breast cancer cases detected a year in Finland are directly related to alcohol consumption, which is why eliminating this risk factor could yield many significant benefits.

He said, even moderate drinkers stand to benefit, can improve their health outcomes significantly, and save the state a pretty penny by putting the cork back in.

In conclusion of the report, the researchers said the results from this study can be used to understand the potential impact and significance of primary prevention programmes targeted towards reducing the alcohol consumption in the Nordic countries.

Click EJC to read the original detail article.