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Alcohol Contributes to About 3.5 Percent of Cancer Deaths

Breast cancer most attributable to alcohol in women; upper airway, esophageal cancer in men

FRIDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Alcohol consumption remains a major contributor to cancer mortality and years of potential life lost (YPLL), according to research published online Feb. 14 in the American Journal of Public Health.

David E. Nelson, M.D., M.P.H., from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues calculated current estimates of alcohol-attributable cancer mortality and YPLL in the United States. Relative risks were based on meta-analyses published since 2000. Data from the 2009 Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System, 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and 2009 to 2010 National Alcohol Survey were used to estimate adult alcohol consumption.

The researchers estimated 18,200 to 21,300 cancer deaths, or 3.2 to 3.7 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths, were attributable to alcohol. Breast cancer accounted for the majority of alcohol-attributable female cancer deaths (56 to 66 percent), whereas in men, upper airway and esophageal cancer deaths were more common (53 to 71 percent). For each death, alcohol-attributable cancers resulted in 17.0 to 19.1 YPLL. About 26 to 35 percent of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths were due to daily consumption of up to 20 grams of alcohol.

"Stronger and more comprehensive individual- and population-level efforts are warranted to reduce cancer risk from alcohol use," the authors write.

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