An alarming new study claims close to 56 per cent of cancer survivors choose to consume alcohol, a major risk factor for the disease. Researchers say the rate of alcohol use among cancer survivors is particularly high.
"This study highlights the prevalence of current alcohol use among cancer survivors, including an increase in alcohol intake over time and higher rates among younger cancer survivors," Dr Crystal Denlinger, chief of GI Medical Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, told a news portal. Adding, "As alcohol intake is a risk factor for cancer development and may contribute to worse outcomes following a diagnosis, this behaviour is ripe for education and intervention in the survivor population."
Health experts warn alcohol is a major risk factor of different types of cancer for many reasons. In 2012, researchers of the study stated alcohol reportedly contributed to close to 6 per cent of deaths due to the disease.
For the study, the team examined data of close to 34,000 cancer survivors who were part of the United States National Health Interview Survey between 2000 and 2017. The results revealed the following:
*Current drinker accounted for 56.5 per cent of the group.
*Excessive drinkers accounted for 35 per cent of the group.
*Binge drinking accounted for21 per cent of the group.
* 17 per cent of the cancer survivors also reported they were smokers.
"We would hypothesize that individuals with a diagnosis of cancer who self-report poor health status may be those with persistent or recurrent disease who are undergoing active treatment, or experiencing persistent side effects from prior treatment, and therefore may have been advised not to drink or don't feel well enough to consume alcohol," study co-author Dr. Brandon Mahal, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's McGraw/Patterson Center for Population Sciences in Boston, told a news portal.
Dr Nina Niu Sanford , an assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and study co-author, further explained: "We recommend that providers screen for alcohol use at regular intervals and provide resources to assist in cutting down use for those who may engage in excessive drinking behaviours."
Adding,"Typically, questions about alcohol use are just asked once when the patient first enters the medical system and then copied into subsequent notes as part of the patient's social history," Sanford explained in a news release from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
Researchers urge cancer survivors to be screened for smoking, as well as be counselled on the risk of both smoking and drinking.
The findings were originally published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
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