Alcohol’s cancer link claims 230 Kiwis a year – In the news

Even moderate drinking is linked to an increased risk of cancer, warns new New Zealand research.

A new study from University of Otago researchers, published in Drug and Alcohol Review, draws on international data to estimate the impact of alcohol-attributable cancer. The authors find that drinking is responsible for over 230 cancer deaths (under 80 years of age) per year in New Zealand.

Alcohol consumption was responsible for 4.2 percent of all cancer deaths under the age of  80 and an average of 10.4 years of life was lost per person. Half of the deaths were attributable to average consumption of less that four standard drinks per day.

Lead author, Professor Jennie Connor of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at Otago Medical School, said in a media release the findings about breast cancer were particularly sobering.

“About 60 per cent of all alcohol-attributable cancer deaths in New Zealand women are from breast cancer. We estimated 71 breast cancer deaths in 2007 and 65 in 2012 were due to drinking, and about a third of these were associated with drinking less than two drinks a day on average. Although risk of cancer is much higher in heavy drinkers there are fewer of them, and many alcohol-related breast cancers occur in women who are drinking at levels that are currently considered acceptable,” Professor Connor says.

The research has been widely covered in New Zealand media. Examples include:

New Zealand Herald: Focus: Link found between alcohol and breast cancer
Otago Daily Times: Moderate drinking linked to cancer
New Zealand Herald:Women worst off for breast cancer from drink
RadioLIVE: A new study puts the number of alcohol-related cancer deaths in New Zealand at around five per week
Newshub: Even moderate drinking can cause cancer study
Otago Daily Times: Study shows extent of alcohol, breast cancer link