Warning: Even Moderate Drinking Can Increase Your Cancer Risk

Woman having trouble sleeping
Despite clams to the contrary, small amounts of alcohol pose cancer risks.

Based on tons of research, we already know that heavy drinking can put you at a higher risk for various diseases and disorders. But what about moderate drinking levels? Can it really hurt to knock back one drink a day?

According to a recent study, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

Alcohol Consumption and Gender

Professor Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA investigated the impact of alcohol consumption (as it relates to cancer) by studying 88,084 women and 47,881 men over a thirty-year period. The results of Giovannucci’s study might take you by surprise.

Overall results showed alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of cancer, in both men and women. However, the risk for women shows up at much lower drinking levels than for men.

What’s more; women drinking a mere 5 to 14.9 grams of alcohol per day can increase their risk of alcohol-related cancer – mainly breast cancer. Keep in mind that 5 to 14.9 grams of alcohol is less than what’s been deemed a “typical-sized alcoholic beverage” per day.

While drinking was linked with increased cancer risk for both genders, the risks varied by the following causes.

  • For men, increased drinking frequency was associated with increased alcohol-related cancer risk.
  • For women, heavy episodic drinking was associated with increased risk. What’s more, during a seven-year follow-up of the United Kingdom’s Million Women Study, researchers found an increased risk in all cancers for women who drank seven to 14 drinks per week.

What do the Findings Mean?

Women should be especially aware of the health risks related to alcohol consumption. This increased risk for breast cancer falls well within the accepted definition of moderate drinking.

Women may also want to reconsider their drinking habits as a result of this new information. What they previously considered a “safe drinking level” may still increase the risk for cancer.

Dr. Jürgen Rehm, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada shared his recommendations based on this study:

“People with a family history of cancer, especially women with a family history of breast cancer, should consider reducing their alcohol intake to below recommended limits, or even abstaining altogether, given the now well-established link between moderate drinking and alcohol-related cancers.”

Additional Reading: Study: Your Genes Could Make You a Compulsive Drinker

Image Source: Pixabay

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