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Neck Cancer And Alcohol Consumption: U.S. vs Belarus


neck cancer

Drink responsibly.

Neck cancer? In Belarus? Bela-where? Either check a map or be satisfied that Belarus is an eastern european country that used to be part of the Soviet Union.


And they drink. A lot. Belarus scores #1 on Market Watch’s survey of ten drunkest nations on earth. #2 is Republic of Moldova, #3 Lithuania, #4 Russian Federation.


The stats on #1:

1. Belarus

Alcohol per capita consumption: 17.5 liters

Percent binge drinking: 26.5% (14th highest)

Percent of deaths, alcohol-related: 34.7% (the highest)

Life expectancy at birth: 72.1 years

Belarus had the world’s highest level of alcohol consumption, with 17.5 liters of alcohol consumed per capita. The country’s high level of consumption has had serious health consequences on its residents. Belarus trailed just two other countries, Russia and Hungary, with 17.5% of the population suffering from an alcohol use disorder. In all, alcohol was a factor in nearly 35% of all deaths in the country, the most out of any nation in the world. Belarus has publicly and aggressively cracked down on production of bootleg alcohol. Alcohol produced illegally accounted for 3.2 liters of per capita consumption on average, among the highest levels in the world. Despite a low unemployment rate, Belarus’ economy is heavily state-controlled and often considered inefficient. The country has suffered from extraordinarily high inflation for years as well.


Now honestly, have you ever considered Belarus? Given it even a passing thought. The only reason Belarus shows up on boomerpdx is for medical reasons, which is why this post is in the Toughen Up category.


After watching NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt reporting on neck cancer risks that come with booze consumption I wanted something to cushion the blow. I wanted the comfort of knowing there are lots of countries drinking more than America.


More important, places that drink more than Portland, Oregon.


Specifically, anyplace where people drink more than me. How hard can that be? Belarus did the trick.


Add the blogger twist to connect the dots: Do the top liquor chugging nations also lead in neck cancer?


The NBC News report compared colon and breast cancer rates based on light drinking, heavy drinking, men and women. Heavy for men is four drinks, three for women.


The report looked thoughtful and informative, not a terrifying vision of the future. Heavy drinking ups colon cancer risk to 44% and a sixty percent greater chance for breast cancer. Give the numbers a five percent cushion for a better give or take result.


The thoughtful and informative report on NBC News jumped the tracks with head and neck cancer. In a slow reveal, the statistics came down for heavy drinking and head and neck cancer. Then the slow appearing number. A big number.


Head and neck cancer jumps 500% with heavy alcohol use. Four drinks a day sounds like doom. Three for women.


A 500% jump sounds like a freaking guillotine in the neck.


Maybe it’s just me feeling dramatic about neck cancer, what with going through the cure for HPV16 tongue cancer. I celebrated my big cancer win with a few beers. A couple of times. But too many? Apparently.


As a lifestyle blogger in a health related region of America near Nike headquarters, and an audience of more than half Millennials, this is a BoomerPDX heads up: Back away from the brewski, college boy. Skip one for the road, college girl.


Police yourself accordingly and avoid the sort of cancer you can easily dodge. Walk past the beverage promotion models luring you to the bar. Tell the captain you’re ready to mutiny.


Like that will ever happen. I know what the youth say about their elders: “You had your fun, now you just want to ruin it for us.” How about cut back on the binge drinking?


A light drinking woman means one alcoholic drink, two for the light drinking man. Is it possible to drink less?


Heavy drinking is four drinks or more, and the increase in cancer risk is 500%. Does this mean two drinks only raises the risk to 250%, and one drink gives head and neck cancer a 125% increase?


If you can do the math, let me know. In the meantime, more from Belarus:


In the total structure of oncological morbidity, the share of head and neck tumors is 3-4% (excluding skin cancer). Larynx and oral cavity cancer are diagnosed most frequently. For example, in 2014 laryngeal cancer was detected in 604 Belarusians, oro-pharyngo-laryngeal cancer in 1,338 people. Men fall ill ten times more often. Despite the fact that head and neck cancers are categorized as tumors of outside localization, many patients with cancer have their disease diagnosed when it has already reached an advanced stage. This is due to the social aspect. In most cases cancer patients are alcohol and smoking abusers. In 2014, 50% of laryngeal cancer cases were found at an early stage, as was 30% of cases of oral cavity cancer.
Why has it been decided to test the new method specifically on head and neck tumors?
Couldn’t be the booze , could it? Maybe it’s the booze? What’s the opposite of “Cheers?”


Be ready for whatever, just make sure you’re ready for what’s next.


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About David Gillaspie
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