Light to Moderate Drinking Could Increase Risk of Certain Cancers: Study

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drinking alcohol leads cancerAccording to a new study published in The BMJ, even light to moderate alcohol consumption can increase one’s risk of developing cancer.

Researchers analyzed data obtained from two U.S. studies that involved a total of 88,064 women and 47,881 men whose health was monitored for up to 30 years. Every four years, each participant was asked to complete a questionnaire to determine his or her alcohol consumption.

Light to moderate alcohol consumption was defined as up to one standard drink per day (15 grams of alcohol) for women and up to two standard drinks daily (30 grams of alcohol) for men. Keep in mind that one standard drink is equivalent to a 355-ml bottle of beer or a 118-ml glass of wine.

Researchers assessed each participant’s overall risk of alcohol-related cancers, including colon, rectal, liver, breast, oral cavity esophagus, and pharynx cancers.

During the 30-year follow-up, a total of 19,269 cancers were diagnosed in women and 7,571 in men. Men and women who indulged in light to moderate drinking had a small, but not severe, increased overall risk of developing cancer, regardless of smoking history.

Researchers discovered, however, that women who indulged in light to moderate drinking were at a higher risk of developing alcohol-related cancers, primarily breast cancer. These results were accurate regardless of smoking history.

For men, light to moderate drinking was only linked to an increased risk of alcohol-related cancers for those who had a history of smoking.

Based on their findings, researchers conclude that women shouldn’t consume more than one alcoholic drink per day, and men shouldn’t consume more than two alcoholic drinks per day.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Giovannucci, E., et al., “Light to moderate intake of alcohol, drinking patterns, and risk of cancer: results from two prospective US cohort studies,” The BMJ, doi: 10.1136/bmj.h4238, published online August 18, 2015,
Whiteman, H., “Just one or two drinks a day could increase risk for certain cancers,” Medical News Today web site, August 19, 2015;