Even drinking alcohol moderately can increase people's risks of developing certain types of cancer, says a new statement released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
Even Moderate Drinking Can Increase Cancer Risk
The new statement, published on Nov. 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, has discovered that about 3.5 percent of all deaths related to cancer in the United States are associated with alcohol.
In 2012, alcohol was responsible for about 5.5 percent of new cancer cases and about 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide.
Women who drink alcohol heavily (more than eight drinks a day), on the other hand, have a 63 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer because alcohol has the ability to increase the levels of estrogen.
Long-term heavy drinking can increase the risks of developing certain types of cancer by over 500 percent, regardless of gender. Types of cancers include head, neck, throat, mouth, and liver cancer.
Also, researchers say that all types of alcohol, whether beer, wine, or other types of distilled beverages, pose the same risk.
Most People Are Unaware
According to a survey, around 70 percent of Americans are unaware of the relationship between alcohol drinking and cancer risk.
The new ASCO statement is in line with the recent research by the WHO and Public Health England, which found that "responsible drinking" in alcohol advertisements funded by the alcohol industry tends to convey the message that only heavy drinking may increase the risk of cancer. The research claims that the alcohol industry have been downplaying the link between alcohol and cancer in an effort to protect profits.
What People Can Do?
Dr. Noelle LoConte, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin, said that people should consider drinking less alcohol if they want to reduce their cancer risks, and if they do not drink alcohol they shouldn't start. Also, researchers say that if people stop drinking alcohol for about 20 years their risk goes back to that of non-drinkers.
"The good news is that, just like people wear sunscreen to limit their risk of skin cancer, limiting alcohol intake is one more thing people can do to reduce their overall risk of developing cancer," said LoConte.
Cancer Rates Are On Decline In The US
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cancer deaths fell slightly from 186 deaths per 100,000 people to 180 deaths per 100,000 in the second quarter of 2017.
Despite the fact that the number of cancer and heart disease deaths is going down, the overall death rate in the United States is still increasing according to the CDC. This is due to the rise of drug overdoses in the country.