New research: A drink a day increases cancer risk

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Heavy drinking greatly increases the risk of some cancers, and even moderate drinking boosts the risk of breast and colon cancer, says a report by a national cancer doctor group whose lead author is a UW Health oncologist. Breast and colon cancers are among the biggest cancer-related killers in the country, claiming almost 95,000 American lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 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.

"If you don't drink, there's no reason to start". Heavy drinking also more than doubles the chance of getting liver and voice box cancer.

The team of researchers also reported that, around 5.5 per cent from all new cases of cancers and 5.8 per cent of total cancer deaths in 2012, could be globally attributed as drinking alcohol.

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

The main concern for doctors are the binge drinkers: men who consume four or more drinks per day, and women who consume three or more drinks per day.

"The most recent data that I have seen estimated that this was 18,200-21,300 alcohol related deaths in the United States in 2009", says study co-author Noelle LoConte, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

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To reduce the risks, the statement includes several recommendations.

The society also level charges against alcohol companies for "pinkwashing", or "exploiting the color pink or pink ribbons to show commitment to finding a cure for breast cancer given the evidence that alcohol consumption is linked to an increase risk of breast cancer".

"Limiting alcohol intake is a means to prevent cancer", Dr. Noelle LoConte, one of the publication's authors and a professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin said in a statement. Heavy drinkers face a much longer list of risks, including mouth cancer, throat cancer, cancer of the voice box, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer. All forms of alcohol; be it beer, wine, champagne or shots cause the same cancer risk.

Many people may not recognize the link between alcohol and cancer, Ashton said, and thus may be missing out on an opportunity to lower cancer risk factors.

"The message is not, 'Don't drink.' It's, 'If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less".

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