Despite repeated warnings from medical experts about the connection between alcohol consumption and cancer, many people nevertheless do so. Now, a new study conducted by the National Cancer Institute reveals that people aren’t deliberately ignoring the risks associated with alcohol consumption; rather, they just don’t know about them.
According to the study, alcohol was a factor in the yearly occurrence of over 75,000 new cancer cases and approximately 19,000 cancer-related fatalities from 2013 to 2016. Ethanol (which is found in most alcoholic beverages) increases the incidence of seven distinct cancers.
The study aimed to gauge how well the general public in the United States understood the link between alcohol and cancer. Data on the health of 3,865 persons was collected from a national survey conducted in 2020. Participants in a recent survey were asked to rate the extent to which they believed certain types of alcohol consumption influenced their chance of developing cancer.
When asked about the link between alcohol and cancer, a higher percentage of Americans knew the link existed when liquor was the alcoholic beverage in question. When it came to wine, however, they lacked the same level of expertise.
Just 20.3% of people polled were aware of the link between wine intake and cancer. In fact, there was a school of thought that held that booze might actually reduce cancer risk. Wine had the highest percentage (10%) of adults who believed it could prevent cancer, followed by liquor (1.7%).
Curiously, those who knew the most about the association between alcohol and cardiovascular disease also knew the most about the link between heavy drinking and the development of cancer.
Fifty-plus percent of adults in the United States did not know that alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer. Compared to younger persons (those between the ages of 18 and 39), those over the age of 60 had the lowest levels of awareness of the link between alcohol consumption and the onset of cancer. The authors of the study speculate that long-standing drinking habits among older persons may be to blame for the lack of knowledge they found within that demographic.