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Is there an association between trends in alcohol consumption and cancer mortality? Findings from a multicountry analysis

Schwartz, Naomia; Nishri, Dianea; Chin Cheong, Sandrenea; Giesbrecht, Normanb; Klein-Geltink, Juliea

European Journal of Cancer Prevention: January 2019 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 45–53
doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0000000000000403
Research Papers: Life Style

The aim of this analysis is to examine long-term trends in alcohol consumption and associations with lagged data on specific types of cancer mortality, and indicate policy implications. Data on per capita annual sales of pure alcohol; mortality for three alcohol-related cancers – larynx, esophageal, and lip, oral cavity, and pharynx; and per capita consumption of tobacco products were extracted at the country level. The Unobservable Components Model was used for this time-series analysis to examine the temporal association between alcohol consumption and cancer mortality, using lagged data, from 17 countries. Statistically significant associations were observed between alcohol sales and cancer mortality, in the majority of countries examined, which remained after controlling for tobacco use (P<0.05). Significant associations were observed in countries with increasing, decreasing, or stable trends in alcohol consumption and corresponding lagged trends in alcohol-related cancer mortality. Curtailing overall consumption has potential benefits in reducing a number of harms from alcohol, including cancer mortality. Future research and surveillance are needed to investigate, monitor, and quantify the impact of alcohol control policies on trends in cancer mortality.

aPrevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario

bInstitute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence to Naomi Schwartz, MPH, Cancer Care Ontario, 505 University Avenue, 14th floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1X3, Canada Tel: +1 416 971 9800 x2773; fax: +1 416 971 6888; e-mail:

Received February 27, 2017

Accepted June 13, 2017

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