Cancer Doctors Cite Risks of Drinking Alcohol
The American Society of Clinical Oncology, which represents many of the nation’s top cancer doctors, is calling attention to the ties between alcohol and cancer.
In a recent story featured in the New York Times and other news outlets, in a statement published Tuesday, Journal of Clinical Oncology, the group cites evidence that even light drinking can slightly raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer and increase a common type of esophageal cancer.
Heavy drinkers face much higher risks of mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the voice box, liver cancer and, to a lesser extent, colorectal cancers, the group cautions.
“The message is not, ‘Don’t drink.’ It’s, ‘If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less. And if you don’t drink, don’t start,’” said Dr. Noelle LoConte, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lead author of the ASCO statement. “It’s different than tobacco where we say, ‘Never smoke. Don’t start.’ This is a little more subtle.”
Other medical groups have cited the risks of alcohol as a possible cause of cancer. But this is the first time that ASCO has taken a stand.
Drinking over all, as well as heavy drinking and problem drinking, are on the rise in the United States and affect all segments of society, including women, older adults, racial and ethnic minorities and the poor, several surveys have shown.
Yet few adults, when asked, identify alcohol consumption as a risk factor for cancer, even though the vast majority were familiar with other cancer risk factors, like smoking and sun exposure, a recent ASCO survey of 4,016 adults found. Fewer than one in three adults identified alcohol as a risk factor for cancer. (Most also failed to mention obesity as a risk factor.)
For the statement, ASCO researchers reviewed earlier published studies and concluded that 5.5 percent of all new cancers and 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide could be attributed to alcohol. The paper stated clearly that alcohol plays a causal role in cancers of the throat and neck, voice box, liver and colon, as well as esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and, in women, breast cancer.
For women, just one alcoholic drink a day can increase breast cancer risk, according to a report released in May from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund that was cited by ASCO. That report analyzed 119 studies, including data on 12 million women and over a quarter of a million breast cancer cases, and concluded there was strong evidence that alcohol consumption increases the risk of both pre- and postmenopausal cancer, and that drinking a small glass of wine or beer every day — about 10 grams of alcohol — increases premenopausal breast cancer risk by 5 percent and postmenopausal risk by 9 percent.
“The more you drink, the higher the risk,” said Dr. Clifford A. Hudis, the chief executive of ASCO. “It’s a pretty linear dose-response.”
Read the rest of this story and more at: https://nyti.ms/2hQUGP7