Population-level reductions in long-term alcohol and tobacco consumption may improve overall cancer mortality, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.1

Findings from prior epidemiological studies have shown that long-term alcohol and tobacco use increases the risk of various cancers and have confirmed a strong dose-response and risk association. There is little existing evidence, however, showing that the modification of alcohol and/or tobacco use on an individual basis could affect cancer mortality rates.

For this population-based cohort study, researchers conducted a time series analysis using alcohol and tobacco consumption data per capita between 1935 and 2014 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Sex- and age-specific cancer mortality rates were also analyzed.

Results showed that the age-standardized cancer death rates per 100,000 persons increased from 199 in 1968 to 214 in 1989, and decreased to 162 in 2014. Analysis showed that a 1-liter decrease in alcohol consumption was associated with 3.9% reduction in overall cancer mortality over 20 years. A 1-kilogram reduction in tobacco consumption resulted in a 16% reduction in overall cancer mortality.

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Alcohol consumption per capita was found to be significantly correlated with overall cancer mortality among men between the ages of 50 and 69 years, and among women older than 50 years. Tobacco use was significantly associated with overall cancer mortality, but only among men who were at least 50 years old.

The authors concluded that “future studies using multicountry cancer mortality data from the World Health Organization cancer database could help to better understand the associations in different socioeconomic status and health policy environments and identify effective policy or clinical interventions to reduce alcohol- and tobacco-related cancer diseases.”


  1. Jiang H, Livingston M, Room R, et al. Temporal associations of alcohol and tobacco consumption with cancer mortality [published online July 13, 2018]. JAMA Network Open. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0713