Even Light Drinking May Raise Cancer Risk, Doctors Warn

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In a statement released Tuesday, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) outlined research tying alcohol to two types of cancer and told Americans to drink less. Heavy drinkers face roughly five times the risk of mouth and throat cancers and squamous cell esophageal cancers than nondrinkers, almost three times the risk of cancers of the voice box or larynx, double the risk of liver cancer, as well as increased risks for female breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

Drinking in general, as well as problem drinking and heavy drinking, are increasing in the US and affect every segment of society, including older adults, women, ethnic and racial minorities, as well as the poor.

The studies also found heavy drinkers have higher risks of mouth, throat, voice box and liver cancer.

They said women who drink - even lightly - have an increased chance of breast and esophageal cancer. One such is a ban on advertising alcohol in the buses and subways of New York City that begins as of January 2018.

"ASCO believes that a proactive stance by the Society to minimize excessive exposure to alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention", the statement reads.

Between five and six percent of new cancers and cancer deaths globally are directly attributed to alcohol, yet only 38 percent of Americans limit their intake of alcohol to reduce their risk for cancer, the organization wrote. Examples of those include cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.

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The more you drink, the higher your risk, leading the American Society Of Clinical Oncology to recommend cutting back on booze.

"The story of alcohol has been quite consistent and has been peeled away like an onion over time, and we're continuing to learn more about the mechanisms involved", Dr. Gapstur said. There's been a lot of talk touting certain alcohols, such as red wine, as cancer-fighting elixirs and superfoods - but these medical professionals reveal a bleak, risky reality of drinking.

Alcohol does not affect each part of the body in the same carcinogenic way, as Dr LoConte explained.

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.

"For the liver it is a bit different: alcohol causes cirrhosis and it is actually the cirrhosis that causes the cancer", she says.