Is Drinking Alcohol Safe? Heavy Use Could Lead To Cancer

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According to evidence gathered by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), alcohol consumption is linked with an increased risk of cancer and can negatively impact cancer treatment.

"The most recent studies by the World Health Organization confirms one drink a day modestly increases a woman's risk of breast cancer", LoConte said.

Researchers found that light drinking was associated with a 13 per cent increase in head and neck cancer, and a four per cent increase in breast cancer. To reverse the trend, ASCO suggests a number of measures to fight cancer deaths from alcohol, including by limiting sales through increased taxes and incorporating alcohol control strategies into cancer patients' care plans.

"We're not saying no one should ever drink at all - we're just saying if you do drink, even trying to keep it down to less than one drink a day would be a smart choice", Alice Bender, a registered dietitian who is the head of nutrition programs for the AICR, told Business Insider in May. Although the greatest risks were found in heavy drinkers, some risks were also observed in moderate drinkers.

The team of researchers also reported that, around 5.5 per cent from all new cases of cancers and 5.8 per cent of total cancer deaths in 2012, could be globally attributed as drinking alcohol.

It's not every day that a group of the nation's top cancer doctors asks people to curb their drinking.

"The message is not, 'Don't drink.' It's, 'If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less", said Dr. Noelle LoConte, lead author of the statement.

The statement provides evidence of a connection between light drinking and an increased risk of esophageal and breast cancer.

The risk for heavy drinkers - defined as eight or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more a week for men, including binge drinkers - are multiples higher. He also said that he wished the comprehension entitles doctors to help their patients decrease their risk of cancer.

LeConte said the new ASCO statement joins other public health organizations "in recognizing that even moderate alcohol use can cause cancer". "It is really the heavy drinkers over a long period of time that we need to worry about", she said.

Preventing cancer is as important as treating it, she said, adding, "We hope that this paper makes a splash with other physicians so they can get alcohol prevention on their radar, too".