Alcohol linked to several major cancers by American Society of Clinical Oncology

Francis Osborne
November 9, 2017

"Alcohol use - whether light, moderate, or heavy - is linked with increasing the risk of several leading cancers, including those of the breast, colon, esophagus, and head and neck", ASCO said in a statement issued Tuesday, following publication of new materials addressing public opinion on the risks associated with drinking.

The latest review of the earlier studies on the connection between alcohol and cancer imparted in the Journal of Clinical Oncology discovered that around 3.5 percent of all cancer related deaths can be assigned to alcohol consumption.

Oncologists in particular are in a unique position to identify strategies that can aid patients in reducing alcohol consumption, addressing disparities that may place certain populations at increased risk, and serving as advisors to the community to raise awareness that alcoholic behavior has links to the disease. The ASCO defines heavy drinking as "eight or more drinks per week or three or more drinks per day for women, and as many as fifteen or more drinks per week or four or more drinks per day for men". Additionally, excessive alcohol use has also been found to negatively affect cancer treatment. "And if you don't drink, don't start, '" Noelle LoConte, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lead author of the ASCO statement, told the New York Times.

Although heavy, long-term, drinkers were found to have the greatest risks of developing cancer, even modest alcohol consumption may increase cancer risk, researchers said in the publication.

"It's good to look at where you are with diet and physical activity and look at places where you might improve and just start every day to take some simple steps to decrease your risk and improve your health", Bender said.

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"Therefore, limiting alcohol intake is a means to prevent cancer", she added.

The statement also cites a recent report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, which concluded that there is convincing evidence that drinking alcohol can be a cause of seven cancers.

"The story of alcohol has been quite consistent and has been peeled away like an onion over time, and we're continuing to learn more about the mechanisms involved", Dr. Gapstur said.

Drinking alcohol has always been associated with various health hazards including development of cancers in the body.

"The evidence is very clear", she said.

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