Medicine

Even moderate amounts of alcohol can lead to cancer

Even moderate amounts of alcohol can lead to cancer

Including these people in studies may skew the data, causing it to look like drinking imparts health benefits, when, in fact, "it's not that the alcohol drinkers were healthier; it's that the non-alcohol-drinkers were less healthy, on average", LoConte explains.

The group would also like to see the elimination of what's known as pinkwashing - when companies use pink on their bottles and cans, often in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month - to boost alcohol sales.

For the statement, ASCO researchers reviewed earlier published studies and concluded that 5.5 percent of all new cancers and 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide could be attributed to alcohol.

Drinking alcohol may have ties to cancer, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which represents the top cancer doctors in the United States.

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.

Dr. Schwartz says previous studies have found a higher risk of post menopausal breast cancer in women who are heavy drinkers.

The message is not, 'Don't drink.' It's, 'If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less. "It's a pretty linear dose-response".

"In general, for men the recommendation is to have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day to keep your cancer risk as low as possible". Further research suggests that alcohol may up a person's risk for pancreatic and gastric cancer.

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.

The group's warning comes at a time when alcohol consumption is on the rise.

Since then, she said, more and more evidence has accumulated tying alcohol to a broader group of cancers, including colorectal cancer and, in women, breast cancer.

Other types of cancer that have convincing links to alcohol consumption include liver, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colorectum and numerous kinds that spread in the oral cavity, according to research ASCO cited from The International Agency for Research on Cancer.

"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. If you're not a drinker, don't start now.

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


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