Alcohol increases the risk of risky diseases

Dr. David Katz

A new statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) says that while there is a dose-response relationship between alcohol and cancer, "even modest use" - consuming even one drink a day - is potentially hazardous.

The review of previous studies on the connection between alcohol consumption and cancer, published on Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, revealed that approximately 3.5% of all cancers death cases in the U.S. could be linked to alcohol intake.

Although the review showed that heavy, long-term drinkers have the highest risks of developing cancer, even moderate alcohol intake may increase cancer risk, according to researchers in the publication.

Scientists also noted that in 2012, around 5.5% of all new cancer cases and 5.8% of all cancer growths worldwide could be attributed to alcohol consumption.

This summer, two major research groups found strong evidence that drinking alcohol - as little as a glass of wine or beer a day - increases the risk of developing both pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer.

The organization, American Society of Clinical Oncology stated in a statement that, "The importance of alcohol drinking as a contributing factor to the overall cancer burden is often underappreciated".

However, the team observed that the highest risk is among those who consume heavy drinks as well as those who smoke cigarettes on regular basis and even moderate drinking is risky too.

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

This was particularly the case with oropharyngeal - cancer affecting the throat - and breast cancer.

But researchers aren't suggesting you get rid of your booze altogether.

The link between alcohol consumption and some cancers is well known, but it is only now scientists are warning that even light drinking is not without risk.

To prevent high-risk alcohol consumption, researchers believe lawmakers and health care providers should implement specific strategies and policies.

"Systems-based research", the report said, "including research into successful means for the oncology community to identify patients who are now using alcohol or who may be at high risk for alcohol relapse, will be critical".

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