ASCO: Alcohol Linked to Several Types of Cancer


Two mugs of beer at a tavern in Montpelier Vt

"We think that alcohol accounts for up to 5% of cancer", says Dr. Clifford Hudis, CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. People who drink more than four alcoholic drinks a day have five times the risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, five times the risk of esophageal cancer and two times the risk of liver cancer, compared with those who don't drink.

"If you don't drink, there's no reason to start". Here's one: 5.8 percent of cancer deaths worldwide are caused by alcohol. Indeed, a recent survey from the organization found that 70 percent of Americans didn't know that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for cancer.

"ASCO believes that a proactive stance by the Society to minimize excessive exposure to alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention", the statement, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said.

Those that are heavy drinkers face far higher risks of throat and mouth cancer, voice box cancer, liver cancer and to some extent, the colorectal cancers, cautioned the group.

The authors write that the number of adults who binge drink has been increasing during the past decade.

People living with cancer remain at risk for other cancer and hence should not drink even small or moderate amounts of alcohol.

"The message is not, 'Don't drink.' It's, 'If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less". "In cancers for which both alcohol drinking and cigarette smoking are causal factors, the cancer risks in those who are both alcohol drinkers and cigarette smokers are much larger than the risks seen for those who only drink alcohol or only smoke cigarettes", reads the statement.

"It's good to look at where you are with diet and physical activity and look at places where you might improve and just start every day to take some simple steps to decrease your risk and improve your health", Bender said. "We also can't ignore the fact that in many USA counties a quarter of the people, or more, are binge drinkers". "Therefore, limiting alcohol intake is a means to prevent cancer".

Heavy alcohol use could increase the risk of cancer, pictured is a customer drinking an IPA beer at a brewery February 7, 2014 in Santa Rosa, California. "It is really the heavy drinkers over a long period of time that we need to worry about", she said.

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