Awareness of the Link Between Alcohol Consumption and Cancer Across the World: A Review
Since 1988, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, the highest level of risk. Growing evidence suggests that alcohol increases the risk of several types of cancer including breast, bowel, prostate, and liver, and accounts for a significant proportion of preventable cancers. Despite ample evidence of this relationship, public awareness is less clear.
Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, this study reviewed 32 studies examining lay awareness of alcohol as a risk factor for cancer in 16 countries.
The results show that awareness appears to be low and varies internationally; it is relatively higher in the United Kingdom, Morocco, and Australia. Methodologic differences in assessment obfuscate cross-country and cross-sample comparisons. In general, people are more likely to endorse alcohol as a risk factor when presented with a list of possible risk factors than when asked to list risk factors in an open-ended format.
Attempts to increase awareness have been limited and constitute a significant public health need. The authors provide potential strategies to increase awareness, such as alcohol bottle labeling and fostering patient/physician discussions regarding the link.