Alcohol abuse could cause 6 different types of cancer

The New York Times

"The good news is that, just like people wear sunscreen to limit their risk of skin cancer, limiting alcohol intake is one more thing people can do to reduce their overall risk of developing cancer".

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.

Alcohol consumption is a definite risk factor for several cancers, irrespective of whether intake is light, moderate or heavy, according to a statement released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The tipping point for tipple is lower than you might think, they explain: Even less than a drink a day could up your risk of cancer, and prolonged heavy use is especially risky, according to the statement.

"Although this association has been established for a long time, most oncologists and most laypeople and most cancer patients are not aware of the risk", she says.

For the statement, ASCO researchers reviewed earlier published studies and concluded that 5.5 percent of all new cancers and 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide could be attributed to alcohol.

Dr. Schwartz says previous studies have found a higher risk of post menopausal breast cancer in women who are heavy drinkers. And if you don't drink, don't start.

This is the first time the ASCO has issued a stand on the issue of alcohol consumption.

Since then, she said, more and more evidence has accumulated tying alcohol to a broader group of cancers, including colorectal cancer and, in women, breast cancer. 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.

One way alcohol may lead to cancer is because the body metabolizes it into acetaldehyde, which causes changes and mutations in DNA, Dr. Gapstur said.

The risk is higher for cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus, since these are the tissues that come into direct contact with the alcohol.

A group of the country's top cancer doctors are taking an unprecedented stance against alcohol, saying that its ties to cancer simply make it too much of a risk to public health, according to a warning published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. 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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