Alcohol-Related Cancer Deaths are Soaring

Alcohol is an irritant. It irritates the lining of our mouth, of our throat, of our stomach. As our body tries to heal, sometimes it heals in abnormal ways that can lead to the very beginnings of cancer.” ~ Dr. David Odell, M.D., Thoracic Surgeon, Northwestern Medicine

Since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began, Americans are drinking more than ever. In fact, 2 out of 3 people say that they have increased their consumption.

The biggest factors behind this trend are the stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic.

Dr. Sarah Church, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in addiction, says, “For many people who were using alcohol to cope in one way or another, once the pandemic hit, their drinking increased significantly.”

This is particularly alarming news because according to a brand-new study, alcohol caused over 4% of cancer deaths in 2020. That works out to nearly 750,000 cancer deaths directly attributable to drinking.

And not just excessive drinking, either.

Although the majority of cancers linked to alcohol use were among individuals who have two or more drinks per day, over 100,000 new cases were among those who drank less than that.

Alcohol and Cancer By the Numbers

The study also found that 3 out of 4 new cancer diagnoses are in men, especially of the esophagus or liver. Among women, breast cancer is most common, with a risk that rises dramatically after just one daily drink.

This new study is yet another addition to the growing mountain of evidence showing the strong connection between alcohol and cancer.

  • One daily drink raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer by up to 13%.
  • One daily drink increases the risk of colon cancer by as much as 70%.
  • Three or more daily drinks cause a 36% increased risk of fatal pancreatic cancer.
  • Over a third of liver cancer diagnoses are attributable to excessive drinking.
  • People who both drink and smoke are 35 times more likely to develop mouth, tracheal, or esophageal cancer.

There are two sobering takeaways from this newest study.

First, because more people are drinking more often and more heavily, the risk of cancer is growing. Just a few years ago, about 1 in 30 cancer deaths were alcohol-related.

Now that number is greater than 1 in 25.

Second, because it takes 10 years for the effects of drinking to manifest as cancer, it is still unclear what the ultimate impact of the pandemic will be.

The Bottom Line about Cancer and Drinking

One of the best things to lower your cancer risk and protect your health is to stop drinking. If you want to quit and are finding it too hard to do it on your own, that may be a sign of a deeper problem.

To get the help and support you need, your best resource is Lasting Recovery, the oldest and most trusted outpatient alcohol rehab program in San Diego. With our award-winning and evidence-based approach, we empower you to regain and maintain your long-term sobriety.

Best of all, we now offer a virtual rehab program that lets you receive the services you need from the privacy and safety of your own home.

For more information or for a confidential needs assessment, contact Lasting Recovery TODAY.

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