A report links alcohol consumption to thousands of colon and breast cancers in Spain

Tobacco, alcohol and obesity continue to be some of the most important and preventable risk factors related to cancer. The 2014 World Cancer report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that around a third of cancer deaths are due to tobacco, infections, alcohol, sedentary lifestyle and inadequate diets (insufficient amount of fruit and vegetables).

Tobacco has always been the main risk factor related to cancer. Specifically, it is responsible for up to 33% of cancers worldwide, and up to 22% of deaths from cancer.

In Spain, it is estimated that 23.3% of men and 16.4% of women are habitual smokers. And it is especially worrying that there has been a progressive increase in smoking among women since the 1970s, as mentioned before, with the consequent impact on the incidence and mortality of related tumors.

However, despite the fact that already in 2021 a report published in ‘The Lancet Oncology’ warned that 4% of newly diagnosed cancer cases in 2020 may be associated with alcohol consumption, and that previously the American Society of Oncology Clínica (ASCO), in an article published in the “Journal of Clinical Oncology” is emphatic with alcohol consumption, be it light, moderate or intense, stating that it is related to an increased risk of different types of cancers, such as breast, colon, esophagus, and head and neck, there have not been measures as restrictive with alcohol consumption as with tobacco.

And the relationship between alcohol and cancer is not to be ignored. According to the data presented today by the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), it is estimated that in Spain, alcohol, in 2020, could have been responsible for the diagnosis of some 4,500 cases of colon cancer, some 2,100 cases of colon cancer, breast, and around 1,500 cases of hepatocarcinoma and tumors of the oral cavity, among others.

There is a synergistic effect with smoking, and when combined, the risk of developing oral, oropharyngeal or esophageal carcinomas is multiplied by 30

Enriqueta Felip

I am President

«From SEOM we want to emphasize that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, since the risk of cancer increases even with low consumption», highlighted Enriqueta Felip, president of SEOM.

Felip has highlighted that “it is estimated that up to 4,600 cases of breast cancer per year in Europe are due to alcohol consumption of 1 glass of wine per day, figures that increase significantly with greater alcohol consumption.”

In addition, he added, “there is a synergistic effect with smoking, and when combined, the risk of developing oral, oropharyngeal or esophageal carcinomas was multiplied by 30”.


Regarding obesity, there is at least nine related types of cancer with it, with a total incidence of about 450,000 cancer cases per year. It is estimated that worldwide there were some 110,000 cases of postmenopausal breast and endometrial cancer directly related to obesity, 85,000 cases of colon cancer and 65,000 cases of kidney cancer, among others. And, in this line, it is calculated that, if the mean population BMI had not increased worldwide in the last 30 years, more than 160,000 cases of cancer could have been avoided in 2012 worldwide.

By Editor

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