QIMR Berghofer

The impact of reducing alcohol consumption in Australia: An estimate of the proportion of potentially avoidable cancers 2013-2037.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer first concluded that alcohol causes cancer in humans in 1988. The World Cancer Research Fund has declared that alcohol causes cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus (squamous cell carcinoma), female breast, colon, rectum, stomach and liver. It recommended that alcohol be avoided altogether to prevent cancer. We aimed to quantify the impact of reducing alcohol consumption on future cancer incidence in Australia. We used PREVENT 3.01 simulation modelling software to estimate the proportion of cancers that could potentially be prevented over a 25-year period under two hypothetical intervention scenarios and two latency periods (20 and 30?years). Under a scenario where alcohol consumption abruptly ceases, we estimated up to 4% of alcohol-related cancers could be avoided over a 25-year period (~49,500 cancers, depending on assumed latency). If the maximum consumption of all Australian adults was =20?g/day (~two Australian standard drinks), up to 2% of alcohol-related cancers could be avoided (~29,600 cancers). The maximum proportions were higher for men (6% for no alcohol consumption; 5% for =20?g/day) than women (3%; 1%). The proportion avoidable was highest for oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (17% no alcohol consumption; 9% =20?g/day), followed by cancers of the oral cavity (12%; 5%) and pharynx (11%; 5%). The cancer sites with the highest numbers of potentially avoidable cases were colon in men (11,500; 9,900) and breast in women (14,400; 4,100). Successful interventions to reduce alcohol intake could lead to significant reductions in cancer incidence.

Authors Wilson, Louise F; Baade, Peter D; Green, Adele C; Jordan, Susan J; Kendall, Bradley J; Neale, Rachel E; Olsen, Catherine M; Youlden, Danny R; Webb, Penelope M; Whiteman, David C
Pages 2944-2953
Volume 145
Date 1/02/2019
Grant ID
Funding Body Cancer Council Australia
URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10.1002/ijc.32204