People who drink alcoholic drinks at least once per week are 19 times more likely to develop hypopharyngeal cancer than those who do not drink, researchers with the National Health Research Institute (NHRI) said yesterday.
Head and neck cancers — including oral, oropharyngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers — rank fourth in the 10 most common cancers among men in Taiwan, the NHRI said, adding that the main risk factors are drinking alcohol, chewing betel nuts and smoking cigarettes.
Since the implementation of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) in 2008, the prevalence of men who smoke cigarettes has dropped from 55.1 percent in 2008 to 26.4 percent in 2017, the NHRI said.
Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times
The cigarette-smoking and betel-nut-chewing population has significantly decreased, it added.
However, NHRI associate researcher Chang Shu-ming (張書銘) said that the prevalence of alcohol use has increased from 53.3 percent in men and 22.4 percent in women in 2002 to 71.5 percent in men and 45.7 percent in women in 2013.
The National Institute of Cancer Research’s oral cancer research team and National Cheng Kung University Hospital collaborated to study how alcohol consumption affects risk and prognosis regarding head and neck cancers.
They discovered that people who drink alcohol at least once per week, no matter whether it is beer, wine or spirits, are 1.6 more likely to develop head and neck cancers than people who do not drink, Chang said.
They are 19 times more likely to develop hypopharyngeal cancer, 3.8 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer and 1.5 times more likely to develop laryngeal cancer, he said.
People who have a mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) gene mutation or deficiency — characterized by red flushes of the face or skin after drinking alcohol — might have up to three times more chance of developing head and neck cancers, Chang said
The risk for people who have irregular ALDH2 and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) genes could increase up to four times compared with people who do not drink, he added.
The main reason for the increased risk is because ethanol is broken down in the liver by the ADH and ALDH2 genes, and it is transformed into acetaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen, but when people have irregular ALDH2 and ADH genes, the acetaldehyde accumulates in the body, Chang said.
The ALDH2 mutation or deficiency is common in East Asia, and studies have suggested that the prevalence is as high as one in every two people in Taiwan, he said.
PROTECTION: The New Taipei City mayor said a pass could cover stores, but not eateries, while Ko Wen-je said vaccinated people could be exempted from some rules Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) on Saturday proposed implementing a “COVID-19 pass” regulation that would allow only vaccinated people into certain areas. New Taipei City is planning to require a “COVID-19 pass” for entry to “vulnerable spaces” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hou said. Non-students entering elementary schools in New Taipei City are required to show their COVID-19 vaccination cards or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. This is for the protection of students under the age of 12, who are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, city officials have said. The
‘GOOD FRIEND’: The Slovenian prime minister said he had visited Taiwan four or five times, and that Taiwanese should have the right to determine their future The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed Slovenia’s plan to establish a representative office in Taiwan, after Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa revealed the plan in an interview with Indian TV station Doordarshan on Monday. Taiwan is a democratic country that respects international democratic standards and international laws, the Slovenian prime minister said in the interview. Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives,” he said. “Of course, this will not be on the level of embassies. It will be on the same level as many of the EU member countries.” “When I spoke with our businessmen who are trading with Taiwan, they
BRIBES FOR VOTES: A probe found that funding for the scheme came from Huang Daonian, director of the Economic Bureau at Changsha City’s Taiwan Affairs Office Five Taiwanese businesspeople working in China were yesterday found guilty of taking money from Chinese authorities to buy votes for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in the 2020 presidential election. The Taipei District Court sentenced Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises (台灣同胞投資企業協會) Changsha City Branch chairman Lin Huai (林懷) to three years and 10 months in jail, with deprivation of his civil rights for four years. The other four convicted in the case, who all received 20-month prison terms, were China New Family Association (中華兩岸新家庭協會) chairwoman Chiang Ming-sia (蔣明霞), Hunan Shaoyang City Association in Taiwan (湖南邵陽旅台同鄉會) director Chang Kuo-chun (張國君),
LUNAR NEW YEAR: The nation is expecting 4,200 international travelers to arrive today and 3,900 tomorrow, as people return home for the holidays, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said it expects imported cases of COVID-19 to further increase today and tomorrow — the peak period for international arrivals before the Lunar New Year holiday. The nation has seen more imported cases of COVID-19 since it implemented a new policy on Tuesday requiring travelers on long-haul flights to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival. Those who test positive are taken directly to hospitals from airports. Most of the recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 were travelers arriving from the US, CECC data showed. On Tuesday, 58 of the 625 travelers arriving at Taiwan