Even Moderate Drinking May Raise Cancer Risk
Even moderate drinking may increase a person’s risk of developing cancer, particularly women, according to a study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. Moderate drinking is defined as one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men, ,
Researchers analyzed data from two large U.S. studies including 88,084 women and 47,881 men whose health was monitored for up to 30 years. Participants were asked to complete a dietary questionnaire every four years that included questions about alcohol consumption.
The scientists assessed the risk of alcohol-related cancers, which include colon, rectal, liver, breast, oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus cancers. They found that during the 30-yeard followup period, 19,269 cancers were diagnosed in women and 7,571 cancers were diagnosed in men.
Overall, the study concluded that women who engaged in light to moderate drinking were at greater risk of alcohol-related cancers, particularly breast cancer. This was true for women with and without a history of smoking. Among men, light to moderate drinking was only linked to increased risk of alcohol-related cancers in those who had a history of smoking.
More research needs to be done to assess the links between smoking history and drinking, but the findings suggest that people should limit their alcohol consumption if they have a family history of cancer.