Alcohol Consumption Increases Risk of Cancer
Alcohol effects and cancer
The best treatment for cancer is to prevent it from occurring. Research is ongoing to evaluate environmental and lifestyle factors that may be associated with an increased incidence of cancer. Identifying such risk factors may allow individuals to modify lifestyle choices in order to reduce their risk of developing cancer.
The Million Women Study in the United Kingdom involved over 1.3 million middle-aged women who responded to a questionnaire regarding sociodemographic and personal information, including alcohol consumption. These women were followed for several years in an effort to determine how reproductive and lifestyle factors affect women’s health.
The current study used the data from just over 1.2 million of the women in the Million Women Study, excluding some women based on pre-existing cancers or because pertinent information was excluded on the questionnaire. About one-quarter of the cohort reported drinking no alcohol. Of the remaining women who reported consuming alcohol, 98% consumed fewer than 21 drinks per week, with the average being one drink per day. (Fewer than three drinks per day is considered low to moderate alcohol consumption.)
The women were followed for an average of 7.2 years, during which 68,775 invasive cancers occurred.
Increased alcohol consumption was associated with increased risks of some cancers.
With each additional drink consumed per day, the risk of breast cancer increased by 11%, oral cavity/pharynx cancer by 29%, esophageal cancer by 22%, larynx cancer by 44%, liver cancer by 24%, and total cancer by 6%.
The researchers concluded that low to moderate alcohol consumption increases the risk of certain cancers.Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2009
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