States With the Most Cancer Cases Linked to Alcohol

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Although cancer deaths continue to drop, the disease remains the second most common cause of sickness-related fatalities in the U.S. after heart disease, the American Cancer Society reports. Between 1991 and 2019, the cancer mortality rate declined 32%, amounting to 3.5 million fewer cancer deaths than expected. The decrease is believed to be mostly due to a decline in smоking.

While cigarettes are to blame for lung, mouth, larynx, and throat cancers, however, alcohol is a leading cause of several deadly cancers, too. The National Cancer Institute points to alcohol as the chief cause of head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal malignancies.

Based on statistics from 2009, the Institute estimates 3.5%, or about 19,500, of cancer deaths in America were due to alcohol consumption. The high percentage of alcohol-associated deaths led the Department of Health and Human Services to list alcohol as a known human carcinogen.
The risk of cancer rose for those who had one drink every day or indulged in binge drinking – defined as four or more drinks in one sitting for women or five for men. (These are the states with the highest rates of binge drinking.)

To identify the states with the highest number of new cancer cases linked to alcohol, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a report released in June 2022 by the date site Statista. The site analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the years 2015-2019, compiled from selected cancer registries meeting U.S. cancer statistics data quality criteria covering 99% of the U.S. population. (Data for Nevada was unavailable.) Rates are age-adjusted. Rates and counts are suppressed if fewer than 16 cases were reported in a specific category, such as cancer type, race, ethnicity, and age.

Excessive drinking rates are from the 2022 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Population data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey.

Three states in the South showed the highest rate of new cancer cases linked to alcohol per 100,000 residents for the 2015-2019 period. Kentucky had 146.8 cases per 100,000, followed by Louisiana at 145.5 and Mississippi at 144.6. Utah had the fewest new cancer cases, at 108.5 per 100,000. (Here are the states where deaths from cancer are going up.)

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