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Urgent Need to Control Alcohol Use as a Risk Factor for Cancer


11.03.2023 - A recent study published in the journal Hepatology International highlights the urgent need to address alcohol consumption as a leading risk factor for liver cancer and cirrhosis. The study, titled "Contribution of alcohol use to the global burden of cirrhosis and liver cancer from 1990 to 2019 and projections to 2044", reveals the increasing number of deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) attributable to alcohol use in most regions of the world.


The study examines the burden of liver cancer and cirrhosis attributed to alcohol consumption from 1990 to 2019 and projects the burden up to 2044. The findings indicate that although the number of deaths and DALYs attributable to alcohol use has continued to rise, the age-standardized DALY rates and age-standardized death rates have decreased with substantial regional variation.


The study also identifies that the burden of liver cancer and cirrhosis attributable to alcohol is greater in the population aged 40 years and above, and in males compared to females. Furthermore, if no further intervention is taken, the burden of alcohol-attributed cirrhosis and liver cancer is projected to continue to rise over the next 25 years, especially among men.


The highest rates of age-standardized DALY and age-standardized death rate for alcohol-attributed cirrhosis were found in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, where alcohol consumption is highly prevalent. Additionally, the burden of cirrhosis from alcohol was highest in low-middle and low-SDI regions. This is largely attributed to the prevalence of harmful alcohol consumption in these regions, in addition to other risk factors such as low socio-economic status, environmental factors, and hepatitis B and C infections.


The study suggests that implementing effective alcohol policies and investing in health and education is key to reducing the burden of alcohol-attributed cirrhosis and liver cancer. Dr. Yilin Liu, the lead author of the study, emphasizes the importance of reallocation of limited medical resources and the need to update prevention strategies to control these diseases.


Alcohol consumption is a leading cause of cancer, and the findings of this study highlight the urgent need to take action to address this public health issue. With the projected increase in alcohol-related cirrhosis and liver cancer, it is essential to prioritize effective alcohol control measures and raise awareness about the risks associated with alcohol consumption.


Liu, Y., Sun, Z., Wang, Q. et al. Contribution of alcohol use to the global burden of cirrhosis and liver cancer from 1990 to 2019 and projections to 2044. Hepatol Int (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12072-023-10503-2


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