Alcohol consumption is one of the most important known causes of human cancer after tobacco smoking.
This study aims to estimate cancer incidence attributable to alcohol use in Brazil. The proportion of cancer cases that could be attributable to alcohol exposure was estimated for lip; oral cavity; nasopharynx and other pharynx; larynx; esophagus; colorectum; female breast; and liver and intrahepatic bile ducts.
The proportion of exposed cases and the association between alcohol and cancer was based on data made available by the Cancer Hospital Registries. The cancer incidence was obtained from the estimates produced by GLOBOCAN. We multiplied population aetiologic fraction (PAF) by the number of cases for each type of cancer by sex group and summed them. This study was approved by the Brazilian National Cancer Institute Ethics Committee.
In 2012 there were 437,592 new cancer cases in Brazil. Of these, alcohol drinking was responsible for 5.2% of all new cases. Among males, if exposure to alcohol were eliminated, 50.9% of esophageal, 47.4% of lip and oral cavity, 40.4% of larynx, 32.6% of pharynx, 31.3% of liver and 3.7% of colorectal cancer could be avoided. For women, eliminating exposure to alcohol could prevent 23.2% of esophagus, 19.3% of larynx, 16.5% of lip and oral cavity, 12.8% of pharynx, 6.7% of liver, 5.5% of breast and 1.5% of colorectal cancer
In conclusion, in Brazil a significant fraction of cancer cases can be attributable to alcohol consumption, especially head and neck and gastrointestinal cancers.