Experts Warn Even Light Alcohol Consumption Ups Your Risks Of Cancer

The New York Times

According to evidence gathered by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), alcohol consumption is linked with an increased risk of cancer and can negatively impact cancer treatment.

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.

"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.

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Alcohol is directly responsible for 5 to 6 percent of new cancers and cancer deaths worldwide, according to the statement.

As of 2013, about 73 per cent of Americans reported consuming alcohol, and almost 13 per cent described their consumption habits as binge drinking, according to a survey published in JAMA Psychiatry in August.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, first classified the consumption of alcoholic beverages as carcinogenic to humans in 1987, tying consumption to cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus and liver, said Susan Gapstur, vice president for epidemiology at the American Cancer Society. 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. Although the greatest risks were found in heavy drinkers, some risks were also observed in moderate drinkers. He said he hopes that this knowledge empowers doctors "to help their patients reduce their risk of cancer".

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"The link between increased alcohol consumption and cancer has been firmly established", Johnson added. The kind of drink does not appear to matter, but experts say a beer or glass of wine here and there is highly unlikely to cause harm. "We also can't ignore the fact that in many USA counties a quarter of the people, or more, are binge drinkers". "Don't start.' This is a little more subtle".

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.

"That puts some weight behind this", she said.

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