Strengthening alcohol policies is the best strategy for preventing alcohol-related cancer, according to a study that appeared in the journal Chemico-Biological Interactions.
“Although more restrictive alcohol control policies (e.g., higher alcohol taxes) are related to lower levels of alcohol consumption, little is known about the relationship between alcohol policies and rates of alcohol-attributable cancer,” the research authors wrote in their abstract.
In this study, researchers used a validated policy scale to measure state alcohol policy restrictiveness and linked them to state rates of six alcohol attributable cancers in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010 in a lagged, cross-sectional linear regression that controlled for a variety of state-level factors. All cancer mortality rates were obtained from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s Alcohol-Related Disease Impact application, which used a population-attributable fraction method to calculate mortality of esophagus, larynx, liver, oropharynx, prostate (male only) and breast (female only) cancers.
According to the results of the study, restrictive state alcohol policies were associated with lower cancer mortality rates for the six cancer types overall (beta [β] −0.33; 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.59, −0.07), and among men (β −0.45; 95% CI -0.81, −0.10) and women (β −0.21; 95% CI -0.40, −0.02). The researchers observed that a 10% increase in the restrictiveness of alcohol policies was correlated with an 8.5% decrease in rates of combined alcohol-attributable cancers. Overall, in analyses stratified by cancer subtype and sex, the associations were in the hypothesized direction with the exception of women with laryngeal cancer.
In a new study, researchers at Boston Medical Center and Boston University have uncovered a new association between more restrictive alcohol policies and lower rates of cancer mortality. https://t.co/k7zyeTg0pa
— Art Fridrich (@Ahighervision) December 5, 2019
“When thinking about cancer risk and cancer prevention, the focus tends to be on individual-level risk factors rather than environmental determinants of cancer, like public policies that affect the consumption of alcohol or tobacco,” said Timothy Naimi, MD, MPH, a physician and researcher at both Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Public Health who served as the paper’s corresponding author in a press release. “Implementing effective policies to reduce alcohol consumption is a promising means of cancer prevention that merits further investigation.”