The Link Between Cancer & Alcohol Use In Ohio
Alcohol increases your risk of multiple cancers, including cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum. Between 2013 and 2017, the alcohol-associated cancer rate in Ohio was 3.7% higher than the national rate.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Ohio.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most common cancer risk factors is alcohol. Indeed, many Ohioans develop the disease while battling alcohol abuse and addiction.
You can lower your risk of cancer by limiting your alcohol consumption or going completely alcohol-free.
How Alcohol Contributes To Cancer
Drinking any kind of alcohol (including beer, wine, and liquor) poses an increased risk of cancer. Every year in the United States, alcohol causes 6% of new cancers and 4% of cancer-related deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.
The drug has been linked to multiple types of cancer, including:
- breast cancer
- colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum)
- esophageal cancer (cancer of the esophagus)
- laryngeal cancer (cancer of the larynx/voice box)
- liver cancer
- oral cancer (cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx/throat)
Studies suggest that alcohol may also contribute to cancers of the stomach, pancreas, and prostate.
There are many ways that alcohol can contribute to cancer. For example, when you drink alcohol, your liver breaks it down into acetaldehyde. This toxic chemical can cause cancer by damaging your body’s DNA and proteins.
In addition, during fermentation and production, some alcoholic beverages get contaminated with carcinogens (cancer-causing substances), such as nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, and asbestos fibers.
Alcohol can also contribute to cancer by:
- increasing your body’s production of estrogen, a hormone that can increase your risk of cancer
- preventing your body from properly absorbing nutrients that protect against cancer, such as vitamin A, vitamin B, and carotenoids
- causing oxidative stress, which means your body has too many free radicals (unstable molecules associated with cancer)
- contributing to obesity, which can increase your risk of cancer
When combined with tobacco use, alcohol use poses an even higher risk of cancer. This might be because alcohol may make it easier for cells in your mouth and throat to absorb the carcinogens in tobacco smoke.
Alcohol Use In Ohio
In general, the higher your alcohol intake, the higher your risk of cancer. Most alcohol-related cancer cases involve excessive drinking.
There are two types of excessive drinking: heavy drinking and binge drinking.
Heavy drinking occurs when a female has more than one drink per day and a male has more than two drinks per day. Binge drinking occurs when a female has at least four drinks on one occasion and a male has at least five drinks on one occasion.
In Ohio, 21.9% of men and 12.4% of women drink excessively. Ohioans are more likely to drink excessively if they:
- are between the ages of 18 and 24
- earn at least $75,000 per year
- live in counties that include or surround Ohio’s largest cities
Alcohol-Associated Cancer Rates In Ohio
Between 2013 and 2017, the alcohol-associated cancer incidence rate for Ohioans ages 20 and older was 3.7% higher than the national rate, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Similarly, the state’s alcohol-associated cancer mortality rate was 9% higher than the national rate.
Male Vs. Female
Compared to female Ohioans, male Ohioans had a higher incidence and mortality rate for each type of alcohol-associated cancer except breast cancer. However, due to the high rate of breast cancer among females, the overall rate of alcohol-associated cancer was much higher for females than males.
Race & Ethnicity
In addition, Black Ohioans had a slightly higher rate of alcohol-associated cancer compared to white Ohioans. Asian/Pacific Islander Ohioans had a much lower rate compared to both Black and white Ohioans.
Among Black Ohioans, the alcohol-associated cancer mortality rate was 26% higher than the rate for whites and more than two times the rate for Asians/Pacific Islanders.
By age, female Ohioans had the highest number of alcohol-associated cancer diagnoses between 65 and 69 years and the highest number of alcohol-associated cancer deaths at 85 years and older.
Male Ohioans had the highest number of alcohol-associated cancer diagnoses between 60 and 64 years and the highest number of alcohol-associated cancer deaths between 65 and 69 years.
How To Prevent Alcohol-Associated Cancer
To reduce the risk of alcohol-associated cancer, females should have no more than one alcoholic drink per day, and males should have more than two alcoholic drinks per day. The less you drink, the better, as even small amounts of alcohol may increase your risk of certain cancers.
If you feel unable to control your alcohol consumption, you may have alcohol use disorder (alcohol addiction).
To learn about treatment options, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer medical detox, mental health counseling, and other evidence-based interventions to help you build a healthy, sober life.
- American Cancer Society — Alcohol Use and Cancer https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/diet-physical-activity/alcohol-use-and-cancer.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Alcohol and Cancer https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/alcohol/index.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) https://nccd.cdc.gov/DPH_ARDI/default/Report.aspx?T=AAM&P=097BB439-814C-42FD-ADB0-8C95124E7537&R=6028E553-1E51-47CA-99B3-BB49B9211350&M=CB059BDF-9205-4571-9A82-913717BD3A1A&F=&D=
- Ohio Department of Health — Alcohol Use and Cancer in Ohio https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/310ab808-2c48-4544-8783-fec5e9ffb080/Alcohol+Use+and+Cancer+in+Ohio.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_K9I401S01H7F40QBNJU3SO1F56-310ab808-2c48-4544-8783-fec5e9ffb080-npy6y5j
- Ohio Department of Health — Ohio Annual Cancer Report 2022 https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/72483153-dbe8-47fe-b32e-bff8f1e50732/Ohio+Annual+Cancer+Report+2022.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_M1HGGIK0N0JO00QO9DDDDM3000-72483153-dbe8-47fe-b32e-bff8f1e50732-o5yrvwK#:~:text=Cancer%20is%20the%20second%20most,about%201%2C670%20deaths%20per%20day.
- Ohio Department of Health — Cancer Stats & Facts for Ohio Alcohol Use & Cancer https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/comprehensive-cancer-control-program/cancer-stats-an-facts-for-ohio/cancer-stats-facts-ohio-alcohol-use-cancer