Subjects: Behavioral health
In a confounding twist to the adage about moderate alcohol intake, scientists from Oxford University have concluded that consuming even one alcoholic beverage per day increases cancer risk in women.
Naomi Allen and colleagues reached the heartbreaking conclusion after reviewing the records of nearly 1.3 million middle aged women from the UK who had been followed for an average of 7.2 years as part of the Million Women Study.
Specific forms of cancer that were increased included oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, larynx, rectum, liver, breast, and total cancer.
For the first 4 of these, cancers of the upper respiratory and digestive systems, the increased risk was limited to smokers.
The trends were similar for women who drank wine exclusively, beer exclusivity, hard stuff or all of the above.
“The take-home message,” Allen told the San Francisco Chronicle, is that “regularly drinking even one drink per day (is) increasing your risk for cancer.”
The write-up appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“I thought drinking wine was good for you,” Mirella Romansini protested to the Chronicle. “Now they are saying it increases your risk for cancer? I’m surprised.”
US Dietary Guidelines say moderate alcohol intake can reduce cardiovascular risk and suggest it’s OK for women to have a drink a day unless they’re young, pregnant or at risk for alcohol dependency.
But they never actually recommended that people consume alcohol for health reasons.
“It’s a level of consumption that generally has been found in scientific studies to be associated with a relatively low risk of harms,” the CDC’s Robert Brewer explained to the Chronicle while backpedaling, “but low risk does not mean no risk.”