It turns out that alcohol causes seven forms of cancer. And even people who consume low to moderate amounts are at risk. Fresh analysis of evidence accumulated over a number of years implicates alcohol in breast, colon, liver and other types of cancer. The study, published in the scientific journal Addiction, concludes that there is more than simply a link or statistical association between alcohol and cancer. Credible evidence conclusively points to drinking as a direct cause of the disease, says Jennie Conner of the preventive and social medicine department at Otago University in New Zealand.
“There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others,” Connor said. “Even without complete knowledge of biological mechanisms [of how alcohol causes cancer], the epidemiological evidence can support the judgment that alcohol causes cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast.” Conner also said that a growing body of evidence suggests that skin, prostate and pancreatic cancer is likely caused by alcohol.
“The highest risks are associated with the heaviest drinking but a considerable burden is experienced by drinkers with low to moderate consumption…” Connor added.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have new guidelines for safe drinking, which critics say are impractical and would be ignored. But following them, would keep drinkers’ risk of cancer low.
While most people are aware that alcohol can cause liver cancer they aren’t aware of the link between alcohol and the other cancers. But the scientific link is well established.
The good news is that drinkers who give up alcohol can reverse their risk of laryngeal, pharyngeal and liver cancer, and that their risk reduced the longer they avoided alcohol, Connor’s research found.
“Regularly drinking more than the government’s low-risk guidelines puts you at increased risk of some types of cancer, and can also increase your risk of heart and liver disease, strokes and pancreatitis,” said Elaine Hindal, chief executive of Drinkaware. “Smoking and drinking together increases your risk of developing throat and mouth cancer more than doing either on their own.”
People drinking more than the recommended limits should cut down in order to safeguard their future health, she added.
Perhaps all the defensiveness for social drinking has many deceived into thinking they are ok when they are not.
Nature Knows Best