Drinking Alcohol Increases Your Risk of Cancer

This is an article from medical news today.

Drinking alcohol, especially above the recommended upper limits, boosts the risk of several cancers, according to a new European study published in the British Medical Journal this week.

The study followed hundreds of thousands of people in eight European countries (Italy, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom), and concluded that nearly one in ten (9.6%) cancers in men and one in 33 (3%) cancers in women can be tied to alcohol consumption.

The authors, led by led by Madlen Schütze an epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam- Rehbruecke, said that a substantial proportion of the cancers occurred in men and women who drank more than the recommended upper limits of two standard drinks a day for men and one per day for women.

A standard drink has 12g of alcohol, and is equivalent to about one 125 ml glass of wine, or half a pint of beer.

The researchers said their results support the current political efforts to encourage people to reduce their intake of alcohol, or even stop drinking it altogether, to reduce the incidence of cancer.

“Our data show that many cancer cases could have been avoided if alcohol consumption is limited to two alcoholic drinks per day in men and one alcoholic drink per day in women, which are the recommendations of many health organisations,” Schütze told the press.

“And even more cancer cases would be prevented if people reduced their alcohol intake to below recommended guidelines or stopped drinking alcohol at all,” she added.

When alcohol is broken down in the body it turns into acetaldehyde, a compound that damages DNA, which increases the risk of cells becoming cancerous.

For their prospective cohort study, Schütze and colleagues used risk estimates from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) Study and representative alcohol consumption data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

EPIC includes data on 363,988 men and women who were followed for cancer since the 1990s. They were mostly aged between 37 and 70 years when they enrolled and completed a detailed questionnaire about their diet and lifestyle. This included specific questions on the amount, frequency and type of any alcoholic drinks they consumed, both around the time of recruitment and in the past.

The results showed that by 2008, current and former alcohol consumption caused about 21,500 cases of cancer in women in the eight countries, and over 80% of these cases (33,000) were due to drinking more than two alcoholic drinks of beer, wine or spirits per day. The cancers caused in women were of the upper digestive tract, liver, colorectum (bowel), and breast.

For men, the results showed that by 2008, current and former alcohol consumption caused about 57,600 cases of cancer of the upper digestive tract, colorectum and liver in Denmark, Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Great Britain, and that more than half of these (33,000) cancers were due to drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day.

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