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Alcohol and Cancer

November 10, 2017
Plain English Version

Alcohol and cancer. Getty

Is it safe to drink?

It can be hard to find something that does not cause cancer. Too much sun, too much weight, too little exercise, too much smoking – are all causes of cancer. And taken along with the food we eat and the air we breathe, there are cancer risks to being alive. Cancer in your family also presents a danger to you.

All this information does not stop the experts from adding even more to what we know about cancer. Alcohol is a factor. What is new is the finding that even light drinking can be a cause. This is particularly true for breast and esophageal cancer.

Heavy drinkers face much higher risks of mouth and throat cancer. This is also the case for cancers of the voice box and liver. To a lesser extent, it also a cause of colorectal cancers.

An expert said, “The message is not, ‘Don’t drink.’ The message is if you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less. And if you don’t drink, don’t start.”

Drinking over all, as well as heavy drinking and problem drinking, are on the rise in the United States. The affect is on all segments of society. This includes women, older adults, minorities, and the low income. Alcohol is a factor in about one of twenty cases of cancer.

Cancer experts want to reduce the use of alcohol. They want to use advertising campaigns. They want more taxes on alcohol. New York City is starting a new ban on alcohol advertising in subways and buses.

A report says just one alcoholic drink a day can increase the risk of breast cancer. That is true for pre- and postmenopausal cancer. A doctor said, “The more you drink, the higher the risk.” He went on, “If you look at the figures, you see alcohol is a contributing factor. It has a causal role.”

Research continues to link alcohol to more types of cancer. A report concluded that alcohol “is a cause of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colorectal, liver and female breast.”

An expert concluded, “Even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risks of some cancers to a small degree.”

Source: The New York Times November 7, 2017

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