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No Safe Level of Alcohol to Reduce Cancer Risk Says New Study

July 22, 2016
Public Health

Published in the scientific journal Addiction, a new report by scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand claims that there is no safe level of alcohol with respect to the risk of developing cancer. Researchers found that alcohol is estimated to have caused half a million deaths from cancer in 2012, which equates to 5.8% of cancer deaths worldwide.

Report author Professor Jennie Connor said; “There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites, and probably others. Confirmation of specific biological mechanisms by which alcohol increases the incidence of each type of cancer is not required to infer that alcohol is a cause. Our findings strongly support the use of population-level strategies to reduce consumption because, apart from the heaviest drinkers, people likely to develop cancer from their exposure to alcohol cannot be identified, and there is no level of drinking under which an increased risk of cancer can be avoided.”

The report linked alcohol to cancer of the mouth and throat, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, bowel and breast. Figures from the study showed that women who drink regularly have a 16% greater chance of dying from breast cancer than non-drinkers. In January, the Chief Medical Officers Alcohol Guidelines Review reduced recommended levels for men from 21 to 14 units to put them in line with the guidelines for women.