TUESDAY, July 24, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Alcohol consumption per capita is positively associated with overall cancer mortality among older men and women over a 20-year period, according to a study published online July 13 in JAMA Network Open.

Heng Jiang, Ph.D., from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined temporal associations of alcohol and tobacco consumption with overall cancer mortality in the Australian population across different age and sex groups. Data on per capita alcohol consumption and tobacco consumption were collected between 1935 and 2014 among the Australian population aged 15 years and older.

The researchers found that there was an increase in cancer death rates per 100,000 persons from 199 in 1968 to 214 in 1989. After that, cancer death rates decreased steadily to 162 in 2014. Over a 20-year period, a 1-L reduction in alcohol intake per capita correlated with a 3.9 percent decrease in overall cancer mortality. Similarly, a 16 percent decrease was associated with a 1-kg reduction in tobacco consumption per capita. Among men aged 50 to 69 years and women aged 50 years and older, alcohol consumption per capita correlated significantly with overall cancer mortality. Tobacco consumption per capita was significantly associated with overall cancer mortality only among men aged 50 years and older.

“This study provides evidence that a decrease in population-level drinking and tobacco smoking could lead to a reduction in cancer mortality,” the authors write.

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