Did David Bowie Get Liver Cancer from Drinking Too Much?

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David Bowie died of liver cancer in 2016. Liver disease is most associated with alcohol, so did David Bowie get liver cancer from drinking too much?

Here is what I learned:

Primary liver cancer, the kind David Bowie had, is rare and most often linked to cirrhosis of the liver, typically caused by heavy drinking over a long time. But unhealthy eating or hepatitis B and C have also been linked to cirrhosis.

His treatment began soon after his diagnosis in mid-2014.

But by mid-2015, it appeared as if the cancer was in remission. However, by the end of November of that year, his cancer metastasized and spread throughout his body.

Bowie was in the middle of filming “Lazarus” when he stopped his cancer treatment, prioritizing his music over the treatment.

Could it be possible that stopping the treatment mid-way aggravated his condition? Or, just like his fans claim, Bowie knew that his illness was terminal, so he wanted to keep working instead of spending his final days on death bed.

Whatever the case may be. Let’s gather more details on the legendary musician’s life and death.

When did David Bowie die, and from what?

On January 10, 2016, David Bowie died in his Lafayette Street home in New York City. The musician suffered a rare type of liver cancer called Primary Liver Cancer (when cancer originates in the liver as opposed to spreading to the liver from other organs).

Bowie’s documentary “David Bowie: The Last Five Years” made by BBC, looks back at the musician’s life near the end. The 1 hour 30 min long documentary reveals that Bowie learned about his terminal cancer only three months before death.

By this time, David was working with music director Johan Renck who informs:

“He found out that it is over…. we’ll end treatment or whatever capacity that means that his illness has won.” 

At one point, the documentary shows Bowie eye-bandaged and lying in a bed.

Renck revealed:

“To me, it had to do with the biblical aspect of it, you know the man who would rise again, and it had nothing to do with him being ill.”

Bowie’s near and dear ones believed that the artist was at the top of his game when recording his final album Blackstar. The album was released on January 8, 2016, to coincide with Bowie’s 69th birthday.

Two days later, Bowie died in his New York home. His official Facebook page read the following lines:  

“January 10, 2016-David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.” 

It’s not enough to say that David Bowie’s death severely impacted how music was now perceived. His kingdom of music stays untouched and chartered in the minds of pop music lovers.

He was an irreplaceable artist and still is to this day.

Did David Bowie have a funeral?

David’s death was as unconventional as his lifestyle. He opted out of a traditional funeral, expressed his desire to “go without a fuss,” and did not have a funeral or public memorial.

Bowie made his plans clear to his family about how he wanted to depart by the end of his life. He told his wife Iman what he wanted when the time came.

The singer told his family that he did not want a funeral service or public memorial and wanted to remember the good times they shared and the music they made.

His family respected their beloved singer’s wishes deeply and so “unbeknown to his millions of fans around the world, his body was quietly cremated after he died.”– wrote Mirror.co.uk

But honestly, in many respects, who needs a memorial service to remember the great David Bowie when you have his music instead. He wanted to leave peacefully with no fuss, no big show.

And his last album was enough to say the last goodbyes his fans would have loved to hear.

What causes liver cancer?

Liver cancer is most often caused by cirrhosis of the liver, which is usually caused by heavy drinking over a long period of time. However, unhealthy eating or hepatitis B and C have also been linked to cirrhosis.

While researching, I found out a study by Michael Karin shows the vital role our immunity system plays in protecting our bodies from germ invasion and killing us.

According to the same study, if the immunity factor stays the same all the time, these same cells responsible for killing germs can attack their cells. It can sometimes damage the blood vessels’ inner lining.

In terms of David Bowie’s vibrant lifestyle, he markedly increased these risk factors by:

  • Taking drugs in the 70’s and ’80s (heroin, cocaine)
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol heavily
  • Following an unhealthy diet
  • Possibly acquiring infections from unprotected sex
  • Irregular sleeping patterns

Bowie’s medical reports are not available for online access by anyone.

And there is a severe lack of evidence to support that Bowie suffered any infection. Therefore, it’s probably safe to say that acute inflammation may have damaged Bowie’s liver capacity.

How long was David Bowie ill for?

Davie Bowie was sick from liver cancer for approximately 18 months. However, he only knew his liver cancer was terminal about 3 months prior to his death from it.

But Bowie’s health was plagued for about 12 years.

He first stepped away from touring following a mild heart attack in 2004. From here, he suffered a total of six heart attacks until finally, liver cancer claimed his life in 2016.

After over 100 shows, Bowie went on his most extended tour commencing in October 2003. I was lucky enough to see him around this time (4th row!), and the show was spectacular (and far superior to the Let’s Dance-era show I saw in 1983).

But the worldwide concert tour to support his album “Reality” saw Bowie complaining of severe chest pains in June 2004.

Test reports informed that the chest pain was a heart attack that required a small angioplasty to open up his blocked arteries. The heart attack forced the concert managers to cancel fourteen dates near the end of the tour.

Following further dates, Wendy Leigh, Bowie’s biographer told BBC, “He didn’t just battle cancer…he had six heart attacks in recent years.”

Bowie pushed his limits and became productive for ten more years despite poor health conditions. His public appearances became more infrequent. Bowie ultimately decided to retire from the public eye in 2006, making this his last tour.

In 2016, he released his final album (Blackstar), which most of his fans still believe was a parting gift because he knew he would never recover from the illness.

But honestly, his poor health could not stop him from loving music. But how good at guitar was David Bowie? 

Luckily, I made sure to discuss it in a recent article. Also, find out how David chose his guitar players and who was the best guitarist?

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Why did Bowie stop performing live?

Bowie stopped performing live due to a series of heart attacks starting in 2004. He suffered acute blockages in arteries decided to slow down and stop performing.

While the last decade of the singer’s life was littered with rumors and festival slots, Bowie mostly kept himself away from the stage. He retired from the public eye to lead a simple life with his wife Iman and daughter Lexi.

His last performance was part of a charity concert. Bowie stole the show with a stunning version of “Life on Mars.”

This track was among the first few tracks that commissioned the English singer-songwriter’s career to great heights. Amazingly, Bowie wrote the song all by himself.

But is there any song that Bowie co-wrote that brought him success? 

Luckily, I made sure to talk about it in a recent article. I cover some of his most famous collaborations, but I also answer the much-asked question of whether he helped John Lennon write Imagine.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What The Final 12 Months Of David Bowie's Life Was Really Like


After a rigorous battle with his liver cancer for 18 long months, Bowie bid farewell to the world in 2016, just two days after his 69th birthday.

Although unknown to the medical condition in his final days, Bowie’s fans believed that his excessive alcohol abuse was one of the reasons for his death. And to be honest, there are enough studies that support this claim.

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause inflammation in arteries blocking the flow of blood and finally damaging the capacity of liver performance.

So, given these claims and evidence, it is hard to deny that Bowie may have died due to drinking too much.

Image by Tommaso Tabacchi from Pixabay and Image by pascal OHLMANN from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Hi, I'm Jeff Campbell, a former DJ, music journalist, musician, and music lover. I'm old enough to have seen all the cool bands and young enough to still remember them.

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