Alcohol's strong link to cancers

A reduction in alcohol consumption in Australia would lead to a reduction in cancer deaths, according to La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research.

The study found that across a 20-year period, a one litre decrease in annual alcohol consumption by males in Australia was associated with reductions of 15 per cent in liver cancer mortality and 11.6 per cent in head and neck cancer mortality.

For females, the reductions were 8 per cent for liver cancer and 7.3 per cent for head and neck cancer mortality.

The study’s lead author, Dr Jason Jiang of La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, said: “This study has extended our understanding of the role that alcohol plays with respect to liver, pancreatic, head and neck cancers in Australia, and the importance of addressing the nation’s alcohol consumption levels.”

“Alcohol is a major contributor to Australia’s burden of disease,” said the Centre’s deputy director, Dr Michael Livingston. “This study demonstrates that reductions in per-capita alcohol consumption would lead to lower rates of mortality for liver and head and neck cancers.”

The Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risk from Drinking Alcohol suggests an adult should drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm attributed to alcohol.

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive Michael Thorn said: “There is no doubt that alcohol-related cancers would be significantly reduced if more of the population reduced their alcohol consumption and followed the national drinking guidelines, yet a lack of recognition of the links between alcohol and cancer remains.

“The study exposes the need for improved public health education campaigns, better public health policies on alcohol, and more promotion of the guidelines – to reduce the toll of cancer-related diseases and deaths in Australia.”

Media contact: Tim Newhouse – – 0416306759