Alcohol consumption raises cancer risk, doctors warn

Reducing alcohol use greatly reduces cancer risks, a leading organization of U.S. cancer doctors said in a statement Tuesday. The statement cited research that finds that one or more alcoholic beverages a day increases risks of breast cancer.

Mark Schwartz | Oct 30, 2019

As little as one drink a day may raise one's risk for certain cancers, according to a group of the United States' top cancer doctors. The group, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said in a statement Tuesday that "even modest use of alcohol" may increase cancer risks and that reducing alcohol consumption is an important part of reducing incidence of cancer.

"ASCO believes that a proactive stance by the Society to minimise excessive exposure to alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention," the statement, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said.

The statement referenced a report that scientists from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund issued earlier this summer. That report linked higher incidence of both pre- and post-menapausal breast cancer with alcohol consumption.

Many studies have linked positive health effects with moderate drinking. A glass of red wine a day, for instance, has gotten credit in some studies for lowering risks of colon and neck cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and dental cavities.

That same single glass of red wine may simultaneously increase breast cancer risk, however, according to numerous other studies. In 2012, UK researchers concluded that just one alcoholic drink a day increases likelihood of breast cancer by 5% and that women who have a family history of breast cancer should abstain from alcohol altogether.

Many researchers advise keeping alcohol consumption to less than a drink a day. And if one has complicating factors such as a history of alcohol abuse, they recommend not drinking at all.

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