Most Americans don’t know that alcohol can increase cancer risk

MONDAY, Jan. 31, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Most American adults are unaware that alcohol increases cancer risk, but a majority support measures to increase awareness of the link, according to a new national survey.

““It is important that people are fully aware of the potential harms of alcohol so that they can make informed decisions about alcohol consumption,” said study author Kara Wiseman. assistant professor of public health sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville.

Alcohol has been found to increase the risk of seven cancers, including breast, colon and oral cancer. Alcohol-related cancers caused an estimated 378,000 deaths worldwide in 2016, according to a study published last year.

For the new study, Wiseman’s team surveyed nearly 3,900 Americans.

Only 20% knew that wine increased the risk of cancer; 25% knew that beer did; and 31% knew alcohol increased cancer risk, according to the results.

In total, 65% of respondents favored alcohol warning labels, 64% favored alcohol consumption guidelines, and 34% favored banning outdoor alcohol advertising.

According to the report published in the February 1 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“An important next step in this research will be to determine what types of messages are best able to convey information about the harm of alcohol as it relates to cancer,” Wiseman said in a university press release.

In addition to breast, colon and mouth cancers, alcohol consumption has also been linked to throat, larynx, esophagus and liver cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.

One way to increase awareness could be for doctors to talk to their patients. But in a previous survey by Wiseman’s team, only 44% of patients said their doctor had discussed alcohol harm in the past 12 months.

By “developing messages about the potential harms of alcohol, we may be able to begin to address an important risk factor for cancer,” Wiseman said.

More information

For more on alcohol and cancer, check out the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE: University of Virginia, press release, January 20, 2022

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