Experts Warn Even Light Alcohol Consumption Ups Your Risks Of Cancer

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.

A large organization of cancer doctors has issued a call to action to minimize alcohol consumption. "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". "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". McTiernan is also on the advisory panel that oversees the work of the World Cancer Research Fund.

Overall, about 3.5 percent of the 600,000 annual cancer deaths in the USA are alcohol-related, the doctors said.

Alcohol is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Cancer Research.

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Other medical groups cited risks of alcohol as possibly being related to causing cancer, but it is the first time this stand has been taken by ASCO.

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).

Less than one out of three adults said alcohol was a cancer risk factor, but most also did not mention obesity as being a risk factor.

"If you drink, try to keep it under the (moderate) amount", said Dr. Noelle LoConte, an associate professor of medicine at UW-Madison and lead author of the report, published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Even those who drink moderately, defined by the Centers for Disease Control as one daily drink for women and two for men, face almost a doubling of the risk for mouth and throat cancer and more than double the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus, compared to nondrinkers.

Alcohol is thought to increase the risk of head, neck, throat and voice box cancers because those tissues come into direct contact with alcohol when people drink, the oncology society said.

If people exercise, eat well and don't drink excessively, they shouldn't worry too much, said LoConte, who said she has about two drinks a month. "It is really the heavy drinkers over a long period of time that we need to worry about", she said.

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