A study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds alcohol contributes to one in every 30 cancer-related deaths annually in the US. Fifteen percent of those deaths are predominantly among those with breast cancer. It accounts for 6,000 cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus each year.
Researchers from the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the US National Cancer Institute assert alcohol is just an overlooked cancer-causing agent in plain sight.
The report disclosed even moderate drinkers were at risk. Surprisingly, 30 percent of all alcohol-related cancer deaths are attributed to imbibing less than two drinks per day. Less surprising, a higher use of alcohol further increases the risks. According to the CDC, 65 percent of US adults are either regular or occasional drinkers.
A drink is typically deemed as one 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor. The focus is more on the alcohol percentages by volume (ABV).
Dr. David Nelson, director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program, indicates there is no safe level of alcohol use, even with popular claims associating moderate drinking with heart health benefits.
Regarding so-called health benefits Nelson replies, “Alcohol causes 10 times as many deaths as it prevents.” Instead, he urges people at risk for cancer to reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption.
“From a cancer prevention perspective, the less you drink, the lower your risk of an alcohol-related cancer and, obviously, if one doesn’t drink at all then that’s the lowest risk.”
Although unclear on the exact correlation and causation of alcohol and cancer, researchers assess potential chemical irritants disrupt DNA replication and repair. Alcohol may also affect hormonal levels of estrogen, therefore increasing the risk for breast cancer development.
Data for the study was compiled from sources including the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the 2009-2010 National Alcohol Survey, and the 2009 Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System.
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