Author: Mansur Shaheen

More than half of 18- to 34-year-olds believe drinking in moderation is bad for your health. Getty Images

Having a Dry January may feel great, but going sober forever could significantly drop your risk of developing multiple types of cancer, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) study.

In a massive meta-analysis of 91 studies, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found long term sobriety could significantly reduce risk of oral or esophageal cancer. They also found relatively small and inconclusive drops in larynx, colorectal or breast cancer risk.

The WHO considers alcohol a carcinogen, saying that “when it comes to alcohol consumption, there is no safe amount that does not affect health.” It says that even light use of alcohol is linked to an increased risk of a host of diseases, including cancer, liver issues, Alzheimer’s and more.

On the flip side, quitting alcohol can help a person reduce their risk of developing disease. In the new study, the WHO researchers found that people who stopped drinking for five to nine years were 34% less likely to develop oral cancer. If they kept it up for 10 to 19 years, the risk would drop 55%.

For esophageal cancer, the risk drops 15% after going sober for five to nine years, and 65% for 10 to 19 years.

The researchers blame the cancers linked to alcohol consumption on ethanol, a type of alcohol. When the body consumes the substance, it is broken down to acetaldehyde, a substance that damages the DNA and its repair functions, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC directly links alcohol consumption to mouth, throat, larynx, esophageal, colorectal, liver and breast cancer.