Even one drink a day can increase risk of cancer, study finds

November 13, 2017 by Najja Parker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Do you enjoy the occasional cocktail? Beware, because even moderate consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer, according to a new report.

Researchers from the American Society of Clinical Oncology recently conducted an experiment, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, to determine the link between drinking and the disease.

To do so, they looked at several studies that found a strong correlation between and .

After gathering all the data, they concluded that about 3.5 percent of all cancer-related deaths were because of alcohol consumption.

Furthermore, in 2012, they discovered that about 5.5 percent of all new cancer occurrences and 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide were attributable to drinking alcohol.

"The importance of as a contributing factor to the overall cancer burden is often underappreciated," the organization said in a statement. "Associations between alcohol drinking and cancer risk have been observed consistently regardless of the specific type of ."

While researchers did note the greatest risk was among those with heavy and long-term use and those who also smoked cigarettes, moderate drinking is risky, too. Scientists described moderate as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

This was particularly the case with oropharyngeal and breast cancer.

"A meta-analysis that focused solely on cancer risks associated with drinking one drink or fewer per day observed that this level of alcohol consumption was still associated with some elevated risk for ... oropharyngeal cancer and breast cancer," the authors wrote.

But researchers aren't suggesting you get rid of your booze altogether. They want individuals to recognize "that excessive alcohol use can delay or negatively impact cancer treatment and that reducing high-risk alcohol consumption is cancer prevention," they wrote.

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

Some suggestions include limiting youth exposure to advertising of alcoholic beverages and increasing alcohol prices and taxes.

Scientists also hope to conduct more research.

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

Explore further: ASCO issues statement regarding alcohol and cancer

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