Oncologists Draw Links Between Heavy Drinkers and Cancer

Oncologists Draw Links Between Heavy Drinkers and Cancer

"The risk for breast cancer increases with even one drink a day", said Dr. Noelle LoConte, an oncologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In a statement released today, ASCO listed alcohol as a definite risk factor for cancer and said it contributed to 5% to 6% of new cancers and cancer deaths globally.

"The role of alcohol drinking on outcomes in patients with cancer is in its formative stages, and ASCO can play a key role by generating a research agenda". According to the National Cancer Opinion Survey conducted by ASCO earlier this year, 70% of Americans do not identify alcohol as a risk factor for cancer, and only 38% are limiting their alcohol intake as a way to reduce the risk of cancer.

People who engage in moderate to heavy drinking are at greater risk, and some studies have shown some potential benefits of an occasional drink.

The statement provides evidence of a connection between light drinking and an increased risk of esophageal and breast cancer. The authors also called for enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting alcohol sales to minors, and restrictions to young people's exposure to alcohol advertising.

However, a recent ASCO survey found that 7 out of 10 Americans are unaware of a link between alcohol and cancer.

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Since, heavy consumers of alcohol meet much higher risk throat and mouth cancer, liver cancer, cancer of the voice box and to the lower scale, colorectal cancers. The kind of drink does not appear to matter, but experts say a beer or glass of wine here and there is highly unlikely to cause harm. She added that this can also cause confusion because of the various types of alcohol available. For that report, scientists from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund looked at 119 studies from around the globe and incorporated data from roughly 12 million women as well as some 260,000 cases of breast cancer.

"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.

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

"With colon cancer, alcohol seems to interfere with the way folate is absorbed, which is a known precursor in the path to developing cancer in the colon", LoConte said to CTV News.

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