The Global Burden Of Cancer In 2012 Attributable To Alcohol

Kevin SHIELD, International Agency for Research on Cancer, France
FERRARI P. 2 , FERLAY J. 1 , BRAY F. 1 , SOERJOMATARAM I. 1

1 Section of Cancer Surveillance, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
2 Section of Nutrition and Metabolism, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France

Purpose: Alcohol consumption is a leading risk factor in the growing global cancer epidemic, thus information on the cancer incidence and mortality attributable to alcohol is vital for public health planning. The aim of this study is to estimate the global burden of cancer incidence and mortality attributable to alcohol in 2012.  
Methods: The proportion of new cancer cases and cancers deaths attributable to alcohol were estimated using Population Attributable Fractions (PAFs), under the theoretical minimum risk of lifetime abstention. All PAFs were estimated by age, sex, country and cancer subtype. Data on alcohol consumption were obtained from the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health. Relative risk estimates were obtained from recent meta-analyses. Data on cancer incidence and mortality were obtained from the GLOBOCAN database, held at IARC. Population data were obtained from the UN Population Division.
Results: Globally, an estimated 662,000 incident cancer cases (4.7% of all cancer incidence), and 373,000 cancer deaths (4.8% of all cancer mortality) were attributable to alcohol in 2012. The burden was much greater in men, with respective proportions of 65.0% and 75.7% of all alcohol-attributable cancer incidence and mortality occurring in men. Colorectal cancer contributed the largest proportion of alcohol-attributable cancer cases (22%), while oesophageal cancer contributed the largest proportion of cancer deaths (24%). As with alcohol consumption, the age-standardized burden of alcohol-attributable cancer exhibited large geographical variation; the age-standardized incidence rates were greatest in Central Europe, while corresponding mortality rates were highest in Eastern Europe.
Conclusions: The burden of cancer caused by alcohol consumption is considerable and preventable and varies by sex and geographical region, thus giving rise to health inequities. Accordingly, cost-effective policies are required to stem the rising number of alcohol-related cancer cases and deaths worldwide.       
Funding source: none