Health Care

Alcohol consumption may increase risk of certain cancers, experts warn

Alcohol consumption may increase risk of certain cancers, experts warn

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the largest known organization of oncologists, released a statement Tuesday on the link between alcohol and cancer.

It's estimated that, worldwide, about 5 percent of new cancers and 6 percent of cancer deaths each year are directly attributable to alcohol consumption, the ASCO statement said. Indeed, a recent survey from the organization found that 70 percent of Americans didn't know that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for cancer.

Among women, light drinkers have a four percent increased risk of breast cancer, while moderate drinkers have a 23 percent increased risk of the disease.

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

The ASCO report goes on to pinpoint just how many of these fatal cancers are linked to drinking alcohol. Heavy drinkers who consume more than eight drinks a day have a 63 percent increased risk of female breast cancer because alcohol increases levels of the female sex hormone estrogen. The authors also called for enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting alcohol sales to minors, and restrictions to young people's exposure to alcohol advertising.

"We made a decision 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.

Although heavy, long-term, drinkers were found to have the greatest risks of developing cancer, even modest alcohol consumption may increase cancer risk, researchers said in the publication.

"The more you drink, the higher the risk", said Dr. Clifford A. Hudis, the chief executive of ASCO.

Drinking alcohol has always been associated with various health hazards including development of cancers in the body. The formation of acetaldehyde starts when alcohol comes in contact with bacteria in the mouth, which may explain the link between alcohol and cancers of the throat, voice box and esophagus, she suggested. Since there's evidence linking breast cancer to drinking, companies shouldn't be "exploiting the color pink" or using pink ribbons to show their support of breast cancer research, the authors said.

"The evidence is very clear", she said.

According to ASCO, excessive alcohol consumption can also delay or negatively affect cancer treatment.