Drinking Found to Increase Cancer Risk


Two mugs of beer at a tavern in Montpelier Vt

In fact, consumption of alcohol is responsible for more than five per cent of cancer and cancer deaths worldwide.

They also condemn the alcohol industry for misleading or using labeling to "raise awareness" on cancers, such as using pink labels to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

It was also an opportunity, she says, to call for more research into the relationship between alcohol use and disease recurrence among cancer patients, and to address widely-held beliefs that drinking may carry some health benefits outside of the oncology realm.

In addition, the group warns those who drink heavily have higher risks of developing mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the voice box, liver cancer and, to some extent, colorectal cancers, the New York Times reports.

Their findings show just 38 per cent of people are limiting their alcohol intake to reduce their risk of cancer. "It's a pretty linear dose-response". It says even moderate drinking boosts breast and colon cancer risk.

The risk for heavy drinkers - defined as eight or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more a week for men, including binge drinkers - are multiples higher.

On the other hand, liver cancer is caused by cirrhosis, which, in turn, is caused by drinking.

"If you look at these figures, you see alcohol is a contributing factor; certainly it has a causal role", Dr. Hudis said.

However, ASCO is not asking people to forgo drinking completely; they are only suggesting a controlled consumption of alcohol.

Besides raising awareness on the link between alcohol and cancer, the experts also recommended some measures - such as regulating alcohol outlet density, increasing alcohol taxes and prices, maintaining limits on days and hours of sale, enhancing enforcement of laws prohibiting sales to minors and restricting youth exposure to advertising of alcoholic beverages - to reduce excessive alcohol consumption.

"The story of alcohol has been quite consistent and has been peeled away like an onion over time, and we're continuing to learn more about the mechanisms involved", Dr. Gapstur said.

All in all, LoConte says the statement is meant to hammer home one simple message: Drinking in moderation is fine, but if you don't drink, don't start.

Alcohol does not affect each part of the body in the same carcinogenic way.

Dr Noelle LoConte, from the University of Wisconsin and lead author of the ASCO statement, said: "ASCO joins a growing number of cancer care and public health organisations in recognising that even moderate alcohol use can cause cancer".

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