Casual to moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks is linked to higher cancer risk, a study found.
A few studies have suggested that limited alcohol intake would lower risks of some types of cancer.
But, even light or modest drinking can increase the risk for overall cancer incidence.
One drink a day for 10 years or two drinks a day for five years would elevate the risk of any cancer by 5 percent.
Light to moderate levels of lifetime drinking alcoholic beverages would most likely increase the risk of liver, breast, oesophagus, stomach, colon, and prostate cancers.
Studies have suggested that ethanol in drinks is mainly responsible for cancer risk and the type of alcoholic drink makes no difference.
When ethanol is broken down in the body, it produces acetaldehyde, which is a carcinogen.
Alcohol increases the risk of breast and prostate cancers by raising the levels of oestrogen and androgen hormones in the body.
The conclusions come from Japaneses researches who examined the drinking habits of 63,232 cancer patients for over 40 years.
They recorded the average amount of alcohol consumption per day and the years of drinking for all participants.
A drink per day was equivalent of 2 ounces of whiskey (1 1/2 ounces is one average shot), 6 ounces of wine (180 ml, an average glass of wine) and 17 ounces of beer (500 ml, nearly a pint).
The risk of having any cancer increased based on how long they had consumed alcohol but was lowest when drinking no alcohol.
Dr Masayoshi Zaitsu, the study’s first author, said:
“In Japan, the primary cause of death is cancer.
Given the current burden of overall cancer incidence, we should further encourage promoting public education about alcohol-related cancer risk.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the journal of Cancer (Zaitsu et al., 2019).