Alcohol Consumption Levels High in Cancer Patients, Survivors

One in five patients report binge drinking, while one-third exceed moderate drinking levels


TUESDAY, Jan. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of cancer patients report exceeding moderate drinking levels, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Nina N. Sanford, M.D., from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues used data from the National Health Interview Survey (2000 to 2017) to examine alcohol drinking prevalence and patterns among adults reporting a cancer diagnosis.

The researchers identified 34,080 survey participants with a known cancer diagnosis, 56.5 percent of whom self-reported as current drinkers, including 34.9 percent who exceeded moderate drinking limits and 21.0 percent who engaged in binge drinking. Higher odds of current, exceeding moderate, and binge drinking were associated with younger age, smoking history, and more recent survey period. Among a smaller cohort of 20,828 cancer survivors diagnosed five or more years before survey administration, similar associations were seen. Higher odds of binge drinking were associated with diagnoses of melanoma and cervical, head and neck, and testicular cancers versus other cancer diagnoses.

"Given that alcohol intake has implications for cancer prevention and is a potentially modifiable risk factor for cancer-specific outcomes, the high prevalence of alcohol use among cancer survivors highlights the need for public health strategies aimed at the reduction of alcohol consumption," the authors write.

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