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Representatives from the American Society of Clinical Oncology announced that drinking alcohol even in moderate amounts increases cancer risk.The group revealed evidence that women who drink alcohol lightly slightly raise the risk of breast cancer and a common type of esophageal cancer.
"Alcohol drinking is an established risk factor for several malignancies, and it is a potentially modifiable risk factor for cancer.The Cancer Prevention Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology believes that a proactive stance by the Society to minimize excessive exposure to alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention," stated ASCO on their website.
Heavy drinkers have higher risks of developing cancers of the mouth and throat, cancer of the larynx or voice box, cancer of the liver, and cancer of the colon -- to a lesser extent.Other medical organizations also associated alcohol consumption with the risk of cancer.
ASCO researchers based their announcement from earlier published studies and concluded the following:
- Alcohol is attributed to 5.5 percent of all new cancers worldwide.
- Alcohol is attributed to 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths in the world.
In May, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund reported that women who drink one alcohol per day increase the risk of breast cancer.The findings were based on analyzed data from 119 studies and concluded that consumption of alcoholic drinks increases both premenopausal and postmenopausal cancer.Moreover, drinking a small glass of beer or wine daily increases the risk of premenopausal breast cancer by five percent, while there is a nine-percent increase in postmenopausal breast cancer.
"The more you drink, the higher the risk.It's a pretty linear dose-response," said Dr.Clifford A.Hudis, the CEO of ASCO.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also noted the following cancer-related risks of alcohol consumption:
- One drink daily for women and two drinks daily for men nearly doubles the risk for mouth and throat cancer.The risk for squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus is more than double.
- Moderate drinking elevates risk for voice box cancer, breast cancer in women, and colorectal cancer.
- Heavy drinkers, women who drink eight or more, and men who drink 15 or more alcoholic beverages in a week face an increased risk of mouth and throat cancers, and squamous cell esophageal cancer by almost five times.
- Heavy drinkers also face almost three times the risk of developing cancer of the voice box, twice the risk of liver cancer, female breast cancer, and colorectal cancer.
In 1987, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization classified alcoholic beverages as carcinogenic to humans, linked the consumption to mouth and throat cancers, and cancers of the larynx, esophagus, and liver, according to Dr.Susan Gapstur, vice president for epidemiology at the American Cancer Society.
Dr.Gapstur explained that the reason why alcohol may lead to cancer development is that the body metabolizes it into acetaldehyde.Acetaldehyde can cause abnormal changes and mutation in cell DNA, inducing cancer growth.The bacteria in the mouth metabolize alcohol upon contact that releases acetaldehyde, which is a possible explanation for the connection between alcohol and cancers of the throat, voice box, and esophagus.
How Alcohol Increase the Risk of Cancer
The National Cancer Institute explained how alcohol affects cancer growth once absorbed by the body.When the body breaks down ethanol in alcoholic drinks, it produces the toxic substance acetaldehyde that damages both DNA and proteins in the body.Alcohol also generates oxygen-carrying chemically-reactive molecules that can damage DNA, proteins, and fats through the oxidation process.The body cannot metabolize and break down essential nutrients, such as vitamins, folate, and carotenoids if alcohol is in the system.Drinking alcohol increases the level of the sex hormone estrogen that is linked to the risk of breast cancer.
Alcoholic beverages may also contain other carcinogenic substances such as asbestos fibers and hydrocarbons during fermentation and production.Other cancers including those of the pancreas, ovary, stomach, and uterus are under research for association with alcohol but no evidence has been found as of date.
For those concerned about red wine consumption, NCI stated that specific substances found in red wine such as resveratrol have anticancer properties based on studies that used purified proteins, human cells, and laboratory animals.However, clinical trials of resveratrol in humans have not provided any scientific evidence of its preventive or therapeutic effect on cancer.
- About 16 percent of drinkers aged 15 or older worldwide engage in heavy episodic drinking.
- About 3.3 million deaths were attributed to alcohol consumption in 2012.
- More than 7 percent of deaths among males and 4 percent deaths among females were attributed to alcohol in 2012.
- More than 130 million net of disability-adjusted life years or 5.1 percent of the global burden of disease and injury were attributed to alcohol intake.
- Almost 14 grams of pure alcohol was consumed by a person aged 15 or older per day in 2010.