Author: Diana Bretting
An analysis of past health studies that have looked at the association between drinking and cancer has unveiled that having alcoholic beverages can increase the risk for seven types of cancer, including head, neck, esophageal, liver, colorectal and breast cancer.
The analysis carried out by Jennie Connor of the University of Otago, in New Zealand included comprehensive reviews conducted by the prestigious organizations, which include the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research among others.
The researchers came to know that the risk did not go down even if there were different alcohol types like rum, whiskey, wine or beer. The risk increases with higher consumption, which as per the researchers is known as a dose-response relationship.
Connor was of the view that there is little evidence suggesting that the risk lessens for head and neck and liver cancers when consumption declines. Dr. Susan Gapstur, Vice-President of the Epidemiology Research Program at the American Cancer Society, said that the analysis has strengthened what is already known about the link between alcohol and cancer.
Dr. Gapstur said, “This is a review of an existing body of literature. Essentially the author has interpreted the literature to help people to understand. But it’s not a study of any new data. These seven cancer sites have long been established”.
Health officials were of the view that the study might help regular drinkers to cut their drinking habit. Dr. Jana Witt, of Cancer Research UK said that the best way would be to not have alcohol for few days in a week. It acts as a great way to cut down on drinking. One can swap alcoholic drink with soft drink, having smaller servings of alcohol and not to keep a stock at home.
According to a report in CBS News by Mary Brophy Marcus, “Drinking alcoholic beverages can raise the risk for seven types of cancer, according to a new study. Even moderate drinking is linked with a higher risk. The cancers include head, neck, esophageal, liver, colorectal and female breast cancer, according to the analysis of existing studies looking at the association between drinking and cancer. The findings are published in the journal Addiction.”
“Having some alcohol-free days each week is a good way to cut down on the amount you’re drinking,” “Also, try swapping every other alcoholic drink for a soft drink, choosing smaller servings or less alcoholic versions of drinks, and not keeping a stock of booze at home.” The study also found that the risk of certain mouth and throat cancers was even higher among people who both smoked and drank alcohol.
A report published in the Live Science said, “Previous studies have found an association between drinking alcohol and a higher risk of developing certain cancers, according to the study. However, it was not clear from the studies if drinking alcohol directly caused cancer.”
The link between alcohol and cancers of the mouth and throat were stronger than the link between alcohol and other cancers, Connor wrote. For example, drinking more than 50 grams of alcohol a day is was associated with a four to seven times greater risk of developing mouth, throat or esophagus cancer compared with not drinking at all.(The number of grams of alcohol in 1 ounce of a drink can vary. For example, there are 2.4 to 2.8 grams of alcohol in an ounce of wine, but there are 1 to 1.2 grams of alcohol per ounce of beer.)
“Health experts endorsed the findings and said they showed that ministers should initiate more education campaigns in order to tackle widespread public ignorance about how closely alcohol and cancer are connected. The study sparked renewed calls for regular drinkers to be encouraged to take alcohol-free days, and for alcohol packaging to carry warning labels,” according to a news report published by The Guardian.