November 01, 2018

Some cancers directly attributed to alcohol consumption

Although it's known that alcohol use increases the risk of certain cancers, the actual risk has now been more clearly quantified. According to evidence provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), 5 to 6 percent of new cancers and cancer deaths around the world can be linked directly to alcohol consumption.

A statement from ASCO, published in the Jan. 1, 2018, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, outlined statistics linking alcohol and cancer. Cancers clearly associated with alcohol consumption included those of the head and neck, esophagus, liver, breast and colon. Cancers of the pancreas and stomach also are considered highly likely to be influenced by alcohol. The highest cancer risk was seen in heavier drinkers — those who drank more than four alcoholic beverages a day. However, increased cancer risk was seen at any level of alcohol consumption, even for those who reported drinking one drink or less a day. The association between alcohol and cancer was present regardless of alcoholic beverage, be it beer, wine or liquor.

Mayo Clinic experts recommend that healthy adults who choose to drink alcohol keep their consumption at a moderate level. This means no more than one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. However, if you're looking to reduce your risk of certain cancers or of cancer recurrence, limit your consumption or avoid alcohol completely.