Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Alcohol Linked to Several Types of Cancer — ASCO

Alcohol Linked to Several Types of Cancer — ASCO

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has never before formally addressed the link between alcohol and cancer, but is now underscoring the importance of controlling "high-risk" alcohol consumption to reducing the risk of cancer.

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.

This summer, two major research groups found strong evidence that drinking alcohol - as little as one glass of wine or beer a day - increases the risk of developing both pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer.

Doctors said the way to lessen the risk is to drink less or don't start if you do not drink already.

The team of researchers also reported that, around 5.5 per cent from all new cases of cancers and 5.8 per cent of total cancer deaths in 2012, could be globally attributed as drinking alcohol.

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Light drinking increases your risk of head and neck cancers by 13 per cent, while heavy drinking increases risk by over 500 per cent.

"ASCO believes that a proactive stance by the Society to minimize excessive exposure to alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention", the statement, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said. "And if you don't drink, don't start".

The doctors say there is a need for public education about drinking and cancer risks, especially among general practitioners who may lack knowledge about the link. Research highlighted by the National Cancer Institute suggests that the more alcohol you drink - particularly the more you drink regularly - the higher your risk of developing cancer.

With liver cancer, alcohol leads to cirrhosis and cirrhosis, in turn, leads to cancer, but it's not always such a clear chain reaction.

4,016 adults were asked about risk factors for cancers, and less than 1 out of 3 brought up alcohol consumption.

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Heavier drinking is linked with greater risks, the statement said.

"With alcohol we are not saying don't drink ever".

"We're supporting policy strategies like limiting youth access to alcohol, limiting hours of sale, limiting locations of sale, raising the cost of alcohol", she said.

"That puts some weight behind this", she said.

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