If You’re a Heavy Drinker, This Study Might Make You Cut Back

If You’re a Heavy Drinker, This Study Might Make You Cut Back by Julie Fidler for Natural Society

Does alcohol cause cancer, or does it prevent it? Scientists have given us mixed messages; so it’s confusing, to say the least. It has always seemed to depend on the type of cancer, the kind of alcohol, and the amount of alcohol consumed.

For example, red wine consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. In that study, participants drank 8 ounces of red wine each evening.

However, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states on its website that more than 100 epidemiological studies that looked at the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with increased alcohol intake. In other words, the more you drink, the higher your risk of breast cancer.

A meta-analysis of 53 of these studies showed that women who drank more than 45 grams of alcohol per day – about 3 drinks – had 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer as nondrinkers. This represents a modest risk.

According to the ACS, alcohol consumption has also been linked to the following cancers:

  • Head and neck
  • Esophageal
  • Liver (a very well-known association)
  • Colorectal

On the other hand, increased alcohol consumption is associated with decreased risk of renal cell (kidney) cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Well, a new review in the journal Addiction suggests that alcohol is not only linked to seem different types of cancer, it may actually cause them.

Researchers looked at a number of long-term studies, including ones from the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Global Burden of Disease Alcohol Group.

Lead researcher Jennie Connor, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, said that she and her colleagues found that drinking alcohol was routinely linked to cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and, in women, the breast.

“There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites, and probably others.” [1]

While the review doesn’t actually prove alcohol causes cancer, Connor said the whole body of literature taken together gets awfully close to it – certainly closer than one study alone – without randomly assigning people to drink alcohol or abstain entirely.

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