Dr. David Nelson of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues analyzed U.S. mortality data from 2009 alongside sales-based data on per capita alcohol consumption and data from two national surveys assessing alcohol usage.
Researchers investigated deaths from seven cancers that previous research has shown to be associated with alcohol use -- including oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast cancers.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found an estimated 18,178 to 21,284 alcohol-attributable deaths occurred in 2009, amounting to 3.2 percent to 3.7 percent of all cancer deaths that year.
The study estimated the cancer deaths accounted for an average of 17 to 19.1 years of potential life lost per death.
Furthermore, the data indicated the majority of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths -- 48 percent to 60 percent -- occurred among those with an average daily consumption of more than three drinks per day.
Approximately 30 percent of deaths occurred with a consumption of less than 1.5 drinks per day.
"When viewed in the broad context, alcohol resulted in 10 times as many deaths as it prevents worldwide even after one considers possible beneficial effects of low-level use for cardiovascular disease and diabetes," the researchers said in a news release.