When it comes to light-to-moderate drinking (defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as up to one drink a day for women, up to two for men), the American Society of Clinical Oncology noted that it can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer in women, and esophageal cancer for men and women.
The doctors' group is also calling for new public health initiatives to curb alcohol use, from taxes to restrictions on ads targeting minors, like the new ban on alcohol advertising on New York City's subways and buses slated to go into effect in January. Breast and colon cancers are among the biggest cancer-related killers in the country, claiming almost 95,000 American lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Drinking in general was up by 11 per cent, high-risk drinking was 30 percent more common and 50 percent more people qualified as having a drinking problem.
The main concern for doctors are the binge drinkers: men who consume four or more drinks per day, and women who consume three or more drinks per day. "However, the link between increased alcohol consumption and cancer has been firmly established and gives the medical community guidance on how to help their patients reduce their risk of cancer", said ASCO President Dr. Bruce Johnson in a statement.
According to ASCO, excessive alcohol consumption can also delay or negatively affect cancer treatment. Dr. Noelle K. LoConte of the University of Wisconsin added that "even moderate alcohol use can cause cancer".
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"And 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". The ASCO report puts that debate to bed: "The answer is that associations between alcohol drinking and cancer risk have been observed consistently regardless of the specific type of alcoholic beverage", it says.
Liver cancer is caused by cirrhosis, which is in turn caused by drinking. If you don't drink, don't start. "And if you don't drink, don't start".
You can also do certain things to decrease your cancer risk, like getting more exercise.