Friday, 17 November, 2017

Even moderate amounts of alcohol can lead to cancer

The New York Times The New York Times
Steve Phelps | 12 November, 2017, 01:53

One study ASCO cites even found that found that 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths in the world in 2012 could be attributed to alcohol.

The group is also calling on policymakers to place restrictions on alcohol consumption, from increasing taxes to targeting ads for alcohol, such as the ban New York City has placed for advertising alcohol on buses and trains.

The statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, underscores the connection between drinking alcohol and at least seven types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast and colon - a connection strong enough, according to the authors, that an estimated 5.5% of new cancer cases worldwide can be traced back to drinking.

Even those who drink moderately, defined by the Centers for Disease Control as one daily drink for women and two for men, face almost a doubling of the risk for mouth and throat cancer and more than double the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus, compared to nondrinkers. In September, a study published in JAMA reported that high risk drinking - four or more drinks a day for women, five or more for men - has rocketed up by about 30 percent over the past decade.

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

Dr. Clifford A. Hudis, the chief executive of ASCO, said, "The more you drink, the higher the risk".

On the other hand, liver cancer is caused by cirrhosis, which, in turn, is caused by drinking.

The group's warning comes at a time when alcohol consumption is on the rise. The statement also condemns "pink-washing" by alcohol companies, or the practice of using pink branding on alcoholic beverages, often to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Since then, there has been more evidence showing a clear link between the two.

"The story of alcohol has been quite consistent and has been peeled away like an onion over time, and we're continuing to learn more about the mechanisms involved", Dr. Gapstur said. Alcohol raises cancer risks.

Dr Noelle LoConte, from the University of Wisconsin and lead author of the ASCO statement, said: "ASCO joins a growing number of cancer care and public health organisations in recognising that even moderate alcohol use can cause cancer". It "shows they're serious about it and willing to put their name on the line for changes in policy, and willing to say that even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risks of some cancers to a small degree".

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