Alcohol causes seven cancers, top doctors warn

Toni Houston
November 9, 2017

"Alcohol use-whether light, moderate, or heavy-is linked with increasing the risk of several leading cancers, including those of the breast, colon, esophagus, and head and neck", said the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in a statement Wednesday.

Breast cancer risk increases 4 per cent with light drinking, and rises 61 per cent with heavy drinking. It links drinking alcohol to at least seven types of cancer.

Doctors said the way to lessen the risk is to drink less or don't start if you do not drink already.

For its research, ASCO reviewed earlier studied and made the conclusion that 5.5% of all of the new cancers as well as 5.8% of cancer deaths around the world could be attributed to alcohol. Fewer than one in three adults identified alcohol as a risk factor for cancer. "The good news is that, just like people wear sunscreen to limit their risk of skin cancer, limiting alcohol intake is one more thing people can do to reduce their overall risk of developing cancer". Heavy drinkers face roughly five times the risk of mouth and throat cancers and squamous cell esophageal cancers than nondrinkers, almost three times the risk of cancers of the voice box or larynx, double the risk of liver cancer, as well as increased risks for female breast cancer and colorectal cancer.


If you are a moderate drinker, this doesn't mean you have to completely swear off the stuff.

This is the first time the organization has taken a stance on alcohol and cancer, but it is not the first time the research has found strong links between the two. "We also can't ignore the fact that in many U.S. counties a quarter of the people, or more, are binge drinkers".

To reverse the trend, ASCO suggests a number of measures to fight cancer deaths from alcohol, including by limiting sales through increased taxes and incorporating alcohol control strategies into cancer patients' care plans.

The researchers add that the benefits of alcohol - especially the widely held belief that red wine improves cardiovascular health - has likely been overstated and doctors should not recommend alcohol consumption to prevent cardiovascular disease. There's been a lot of talk touting certain alcohols, such as red wine, as cancer-fighting elixirs and superfoods - but these medical professionals reveal a bleak, risky reality of drinking. "It is really the heavy drinkers over a long period of time that we need to worry about", she said.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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