Here’s The Latest Study On The Links Between Alcohol And Cancer
Here’s The Latest Study On The Links Between Alcohol And Cancer.
When you tend to sip alcohol just to chill during the day, you may also be causing harm to your health. Majority of Americans may not realize that drinking even relatively small amounts of alcohol can be a risk factor for lower cancer, a new study suggests. A study published last year in JAMA Psychiatry found that between 2001 to 2002 and 2012 to 2013, the number of high-risk drinkers in the United States increased almost 30 percent. During that time, the number of people who would be classified as having an alcohol use disorder increased by almost 50 percent.
A survey of 4,016 adults earlier same year by ASCO found that while most Americans know that cigarette smoking and sun exposure are risk factors for cancer, only 30 percent realized that drinking alcohol is a risk factor.
According to the new researched study, the researchers found that people who drank some alcohol had a lower risk of cancer and death from any cause during a nine-year period than those who drank more or none.
In particular, people who had fewer than seven drinks a week had the lowest risk of cancer and death, compared with those who had seven or more drinks a week, according to the study, published today (June 19) in the journal PLOS Medicine.
However, the study found only an association between alcohol and cancer and death, and did not prove cause and effect, the researchers said. What sets the new study apart, said lead study author Andrew Kunzmann, a postdoctoral research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland, is that previous studies have tended to look at cancer and mortality separately. Most existing evidence suggests that light-to-moderate drinkers had the lowest risk of dying from various causes during the study period, yet “never drinkers” had the lowest risk of developing cancer, he said.
And those who had no drinks or more than one drink a day were more at risk for death or cancers, most commonly esophageal and liver cancer and cancers of the head or neck regions, Kunzmann said.
The study also analyzed data about lifetime alcohol use from questionnaires that were given to the nearly 100,000 participants in the United States between 1998 and 2000. The questionnaires were given at the beginning of the study and asked how many drinks a person had a week at present and with what frequency over the previous year. The researchers could looked at data on the number of primary cancer diagnoses (meaning it was the first time the person had been diagnosed with cancer) and deaths that occurred in the cohort over the next nine years.
“The study results suggest that minimizing alcohol intake may help individuals who already drink to lower their risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as breast, colorectal and liver cancer,” Kunzmann said in a statement.
Kunzmann noted that the participants were all older adults. That means that “we’re not really reflecting what happens in younger people if they drink,” he said. Also, it’s difficult to account for other lifestyle factors that could have affected the results. “Light drinkers tend to be more wealthy or lead healthier lifestyles in a number of ways than never drinkers,” he said, and these factors could also influence health. But the results did take into consideration differences in diet, smoking and education among participants, Kunzmann noted.
In general, most people agree that “if you drink alcohol, drinking less reduces your risk” of health problems, including cancer,” said Dr. Timothy Naimi, an alcohol epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center who was not involved with the study. But there could be other factors that “may make light drinkers ‘appear’ to be better off statistically, because they are socially advantaged,” he said to source.
The researchers said that they hope their study sparks conversation about reducing the recommended alcohol intake in countries’ guidelines. The U.K. guidelines, for example, recommend that both men and women should have fewer than six drinks a week (less than one drink a day), whereas the U.S. guidelines state that men shouldn’t have more than two drinks a day and women no more than one, according to Kunzmann.