Finding Connections Between Cancer Diagnoses and Drinking Behaviors

Close up shot on a woman's hands, holding a glass of alcohol at a night club

Cancer survivors were more likely to report heavy drinking and more frequent heavy drinking occasions compared to others at the same ages with similar drinking histories. Heavy drinking was defined as having five or more drinks at any one time.

A 2016 study from the National Alcohol Research Center (housed at PHI’s Alcohol Research Group) assessed changes to drinking behaviors as the result of a serious health diagnosis—and how these changes differed based on the type of condition, including hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, injuries, and cancer. including hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, injuries and cancer. Evidence has shown that alcohol consumption increases the risk for specific chronic diseases, and drinking after diagnosis for some types of cancers (in particular breast, head and neck) has been associated with increased mortality.

When racial and ethnic group-specific effects were evaluated, this increased heavy drinking was found to occur among women and Whites, while no increase was found among Blacks or Hispanic men.

Results also suggest that hypertension and having a serious injury did not affect post diagnosis heavy drinking. However, when assessing people diagnosed with heart problems or diabetes, these individuals actually cut back on their heavy drinking.

Learn more about the study.

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New Public Health Primer: Engaging Community Development for Health Equity

How can the public health and community development sectors to work together to advance health and racial equity? A new primer from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network and partners provides a roadmap for forging upstream partnerships, with recommendations, strategies and lessons-learned from national, state and local leaders.

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