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

Brandon Parsons
November 9, 2017

While existing studies suggested that, alcohol consumption at a certain level may reduce the risk of early diabetes and is good for your health, a call to action to minimize alcohol consumption has recently been issued by the doctors from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The new review of past studies on the link between alcohol and cancer, published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that approximately 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the us can be attributed to alcohol consumption.

Experts also found that drinking alcohol can have an adverse effect on treatment and outcomes for patients with cancer.

Only 30 percent of adults were aware of the link between heavy drinking and cancer, according to ASCO's survey results.

"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.

The organization also wants to end the "pinkwashing" of alcoholic beverages.

However, a recent ASCO survey found that 7 out of 10 Americans are unaware of a link between alcohol and cancer. Heavy drinkers face roughly five times the risk of mouth and throat cancers and squamous cell esophageal cancers than nondrinkers, almost three times the risk of cancers of the voice box or larynx, double the risk of liver cancer, as well as increased risks for female breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

"I think the take-home message from the statement is that the really high-risk people are very high drinkers - over a prolonged period of time", LoConte said.

The researchers add that the benefits of alcohol - especially the widely held belief that red wine improves cardiovascular health - has likely been overstated and doctors should not recommend alcohol consumption to prevent cardiovascular disease.

"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.

Include alcohol control strategies in comprehensive cancer control plans.

Alcohol is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Cancer Research.

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

Ashton said alcohol consumption has been shown to be a causative factor in a wide range of cancers, including cancer of the head and neck, esophagus, breast and colon.

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