ASCO: Alcohol Linked to Several Types of Cancer

Thursday, 09 Nov, 2017

The ASCO statement, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, cautions that while the greatest risks are seen with heavy long-term use, even low alcohol consumption (defined as less than one drink per day) or moderate consumption (up to two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women because they absorb and metabolize it differently) can increase cancer risk. Alcohol consumption can also "delay or negatively impact cancer treatment", the authors noted.

Support efforts to eliminate the use of "pinkwashing" to market alcoholic beverages.

"We chose to push this out because.we were looking over our portfolio of various statements on primary prevention of cancer and we realized that we did not have a statement on alcohol", Noelle LoConte, a representative of ASCO, told International Business Times Tuesday. In a statement released today, ASCO listed alcohol as a definite risk factor for cancer and said it contributed to 5% to 6% of new cancers and cancer deaths globally.

ABC News' chief medical correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, said that alcohol has been a known human carcinogen, or known to cause cancer, for a long time within the medical community.

"People don't typically associate drinking beer, wine, and hard liquor with increasing their risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes", said ASCO President Bruce Johnson, MD, FASCO, in the statement.

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Breast cancer risk increases 4 per cent with light drinking, and rises 61 per cent with heavy drinking.

The main concern for doctors are the binge drinkers: men who consume four or more drinks per day, and women who consume three or more drinks per day.

Dr. Anne McTiernan, a scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who was an author of one of the earlier reports on alcohol and breast cancer, said she was pleased that oncologists were focusing on alcohol.

"The most recent data that I have seen estimated that this was 18,200-21,300 alcohol related deaths in the United States in 2009", says study co-author Noelle LoConte, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She says this "subtle" take on the issue is somewhat less cautionary than the warnings about smoking. He also said that he wished the comprehension entitles doctors to help their patients decrease their risk of cancer.

You can also do certain things to decrease your cancer risk, like getting more exercise.