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Drinking Alcohol Can Cause Cancer, Doctors Warn

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Drinking alcohol may have ties to cancer, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which represents the top cancer doctors in the United States. A statement published by the group cites the link between breast cancer and a certain type of esophageal cancer, and even light drinking.

In addition, the group warns those who drink heavily have higher risks of developing mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the voice box, liver cancer and, to some extent, colorectal cancers, the New York Times reports.

Dr. Noelle LoConte, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lead author of the ASCO statement, said,

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. It’s different than tobacco where we say, ‘Never smoke. Don’t start.’ This is a little more subtle.

This is the first time the ASCO has issued a stand on the issue of alcohol consumption. Drinking is an increasing problem in all parts of society in the nation, including women, ethnic minorities, the elderly and teenagers.

The group is also calling on policymakers to place restrictions on alcohol consumption, from increasing taxes to targeting ads for alcohol, such as the ban New York City has placed for advertising alcohol on buses and trains.

The group took a look at earlier published studies on the subject and found that 5.5% of all new cancers and 5.8% of cancer deaths globally was caused by alcohol.

Dr. Clifford A. Hudis, the chief executive of ASCO, said, “The more you drink, the higher the risk. It’s a pretty linear dose-response.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, first placed alcoholic beverages as carcinogenic substances in 1987, linking it to cancers of the throat, voice box, mouth, esophagus and liver, according to Susan Gapstur, vice president for epidemiology at the American Cancer Society. Since then, there has been more evidence showing a clear link between the two.

The statement was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.


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