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Study finds few people are aware that alcohol increases cancer risk


Photo: Kanawa_Studio/iStockphoto

Although research has linked drinking alcohol to an increased risk of cancer, a recent study indicates that many people don’t know it. 

For the study, researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the University of Virginia used responses from a nationally representative group of nearly 3,900 U.S. adults. They found that:

  • The respondents’ awareness of the link between alcohol consumption and cancer was highest for liquor, at 31.2%, followed by beer (24.9%) and wine (20.3%).
  • 10% said drinking wine decreases cancer risk, while 2.2% said the same for beer and 1.7% for liquor.

“Alcohol is a leading modifiable risk factor for cancer in the United States, and previous research has shown that most Americans don’t know this,” said lead study author Andrew Seidenberg, a cancer prevention fellow at the institute.


Senior study author William M.P. Klein, associate director of the institute’s Behavioral Research Program, said the study’s findings “underscore the need to develop interventions for educating the public about the cancer risks of alcohol use, particularly in the prevailing context of national dialogue about the purported heart health benefits of wine.”

The study was published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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