Drinking Alcohol Really Does Raise Your Cancer Risk, Doctors Warn

ASCO: Alcohol Linked to Several Types of Cancer

Alcohol is associated with 5.5 per cent of all new cancers and 5.8 per cent of all cancer deaths worldwide, including cancers of the breast, larynx, liver, colon, esophagus, and head and neck, according to statement released Tuesday by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Ashton said that moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to an average of one drink a day for women (or seven drinks per week) and two drinks a day for men (or 14 drinks a week). "However, the link between increased alcohol consumption and cancer has been firmly established and gives the medical community guidance on how to help their patients reduce their risk of cancer".

"The message is not, 'Don't drink.' It's, 'If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less", said Dr. Noelle LoConte, lead author of the statement. Indeed, a recent survey from the organization found that 70 percent of Americans didn't know that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for cancer. "The Cancer Prevention Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) believes that a proactive stance by the Society to minimize excessive exposure to alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention".

The group warns that heavy drinkers have an increased risk of developing liver cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, colorectal cancers and cancer of the voicebox. If you do drink, there's no reason to increase.

Dr. LoConte said it's not just wine.




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.

"With alcohol we are not saying don't drink ever".

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. "We don't have randomized trials, but sometimes when you start looking at the coherence of all the evidence, including the observational epidemiology, the lab studies, the mechanistic studies, you begin to see a picture and get more clarity".

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. She says this "subtle" take on the issue is somewhat less cautionary than the warnings about smoking.

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