Many Americans overestimate alcohol’s link to cancer
A new study reveals that although some Americans believe the reverse, alcohol raises the risk of developing cancer.
Researchers looked at public knowledge of the connection between alcohol and cancer and discovered that many people could use more information on the subject.
Wine increases cancer risk, according to senior research author William Klein, associate head of the Behavioral Research Program at the US National Cancer Institute. The results of this study “underline the necessity for developing strategies for teaching the public about the cancer risks of alcohol use, particularly in the current context of the national discourse about the alleged benefits of wine for heart health.”
The researchers examined responses to the following survey questions, among others, “In your opinion, how much does consume the following forms of alcohol impact the chance of getting cancer?” using information from a government survey that received responses from more than 3,800 persons. The individuals were also questioned by the researchers regarding their own use of alcohol.
The percentage of individuals who were aware of the risk of cancer from alcohol was over 31%, followed by almost 25% for beer and slightly over 20% for wine.
According to the results, some people did believe that alcohol decreased cancer risk, including 10% who said wine, 2.2% who said beer, and 1.7% who said liquor.
More than 50% of consumers claimed to be unaware of how these drinks affect cancer risk.
Participants were questioned about alcohol use and heart disease as well. About 39%, 36%, and 25% of respondents in the United States, respectively, stated they thought alcohol, beer, and wine increased the risk of heart disease.
Older persons were less aware of the link between drinking and cancer risk. According to Andrew Seidenberg, the study’s lead author and a cancer prevention fellow at the cancer institute, this might be because older persons tend to have longer-standing drinking habits.
Being aware of the link between alcohol and cancer risk was not linked to drinking habits.
The awareness rates were comparable among drinkers, heavy drinkers, and nondrinkers.
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, alcohol was a factor in more than 75,000 cancer diagnoses and nearly 19,000 cancer deaths annually between 2013 and 2016. (AACR).
Seidenberg stated in an AACR news release that “most Americans don’t recognize that alcohol is a leading modifiable risk factor for cancer in the United States.”
Wine, beer, and liquor are all ethanol-containing drinks that raise the chance of developing cancer. Breast, oral, and colon cancers have all been linked to alcohol use.
The authors suggested that mass media campaigns, cancer warning labels, and patient-provider communications might all be used as public education interventions. According to Klein, customized communications may boost message relevancy.
In addition to enabling consumers to make better decisions, Klein noted that educating the public on how alcohol increases cancer risk may also help to avoid and curtail excessive alcohol consumption as well as cancer morbidity and mortality.
The unconditional form of several survey questions is one potential study drawback, according to the authors. During the epidemic, when many Americans reported drinking more than normal, some statistics were also gathered.