There is a wealth of evidence pointing to the link between drinking alcohol and
the development of cancer. However, there is also evidence suggesting that
people diagnosed with cancer continue to live unhealthy lifestyles by drinking
more than the recommended intake for alcohol. This has the potential to
increase the risk of cancer recurrence, or expedite the development of new
cancers. Approximately one in two people diagnosed with cancer will now
survive for more than five years. This has led to a growing research interest in
delivering healthy lifestyle interventions for cancer patients to reduce their risk
of future cancers. However, previous research has been primarily focused
around developing interventions for improving diet and physical activity, with
limited research focussing specifically on alcohol use.
This study describes a systematic review of the literature outlining the impact
of lifestyle interventions on alcohol use following a diagnosis of cancer. Our
search strategy consisted of online searches of electronic databases which
catalogue the results of published peer-reviewed research, and reports by
health organisations, local authorities, and charities. In order to be eligible, an
article had to describe a lifestyle, or medical intervention, and report if there
were any changes to alcohol use following the intervention. The searches
identified 19,579 potentially relevant articles. Initially the title and abstract of
each article was screened to ascertain whether they should be included in the
review. This reduced the number of potentially relevant articles to 94. Following
this, the full texts of each of the 94 articles was obtained and assessed before
a final decision was made. This resulted in seven articles being eligible for
inclusion in this systematic review.
The results of this review found that no studies specifically focussed on alcohol
use, instead they tended to focus on healthy eating and physical activity
interventions. Only one article reported a reduction in alcohol intake with
participants who received the intervention compared to those who did not. A
number of articles described studies where the authors found that alcohol use
reduced over time for all participants, whether they received the intervention
or not. Furthermore, the vast majority of participants across the studies were
white women who had received a diagnosis of breast cancer. This suggests
that the results of these studies may lack generalisability across all cancer
patients. The mixed impact on alcohol intake, as well as the lack of diversity
of included participants suggests that further research is needed to determine
whether or not interventions can have an impact on alcohol intake following
a cancer diagnosis
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAlcohol Change UK
Commissioning bodyAlcohol Research UK (ALRUK) charity
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2017


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