Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Drinking raises cancer risk

According to a new report in American Journal of Public Health, alcohol is to blame for one in every 30 cancer deaths each year in the United States. The connection is even more pronounced with breast cancer, with 15 percent of those deaths related to alcohol consumption, the researchers added. 

Surprisingly, 30 percent of all alcohol-related cancer deaths were linked to drinking 1.5 drinks or less a day, the report found. While moderate drinking has been associated with heart benefits, the researchers noted that with all the problems it is related to, alcohol causes 10 times as many deaths as it prevents. Along with breast cancer in women, cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus were also common causes of alcohol-related cancer deaths in men, accounting for about 6,000 deaths each year.

According to the American Cancer Society, it's not entirely clear how alcohol might raise cancer risk. Alcohol might act as a chemical irritant to sensitive cells, impeding their DNA repair, or damage cells in other ways. It might also act as a "solvent" for other carcinogens, such as those found in tobacco smoke, helping those chemicals enter into cells more easily. Or alcohol might affect levels of key hormones such as estrogen, upping odds for breast cancer.

Bonnie: This finding is not consistent with what has been shown in previous studies. While drinking in moderation is always recommended, I would not give up your glass of wine just yet. If a family history of cancer exists, then you can certainly consult with a trusted licensed health professional.

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