GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (WBAY) — Alcohol consumption, even unsafe drinking, is common among cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment, a new study finds.
Alcohol is a known carcinogen in several types of cancer, which is a growing concern among health professionals. It is also known to complicate cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
Noel Loconte, Ph.D., a University of Wisconsin Health oncologist and co-author of the national study, said he was shocked by the results.
A nationwide survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health asked a diverse group of 15,000 cancer survivors and approximately 1,500 people undergoing treatment several alcohol-related questions.
“Somewhat shockingly, we found that most cancer survivors and most cancer patients undergoing treatment drink alcohol, about 77% in both groups,” said Dr Loconte. said.
The study also found that about one in four people reported binge eating or drinking. Thirteen percent were above moderate drinking and almost 40% engaged in dangerous drinking.
Dr. Loconte acknowledges that the results are much higher than she expected, especially since alcohol can affect treatment, cure rates, and cancer recurrence.
“We were very surprised. We know that the pandemic has actually increased alcohol consumption across the country, especially among women. I think it means that alcohol use is becoming more and more tolerable, including when you’re receiving alcohol,” Dr Loconte said.
While she believes the pandemic certainly played a role, she said misconceptions about alcohol also play a role.
How many times have we heard that? Can a glass of red wine help your heart health?
According to the American Heart Association, no research suggests a causal link between drinking alcohol and improving heart health.
“Well, I think the problem of messaging about alcohol is a bit of a nuisance. Cancer prevention isn’t the only thing we’re worried about: health and wellness is more than just cancer risk,” said Dr. Loconte. “Please note, we know that alcohol exists in only about one-third of the population. It is carcinogenic. ”
The message Dr. Loconte wants to convey to you from this study is:
“The main message is that alcohol consumption during cancer treatment is probably not safe and that we should all try to stay within recommended limits, whether we are cancer survivors or not. Again, one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men,” said Dr. Loconte.
Dr. Loconte said people should talk to their doctor if they are concerned about their alcohol intake, as alcohol withdrawal can cause death.
Click here to read the full study.
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