Research Implicates Drinking with Higher Cancer Risk

Posted by Admin on March 31, 2011
Though alcohol has shown certain health benefits when consumed in moderation in terms of heart health, it remains a "red flag" as a cancer risk. New studies implicate drinking alchohol as a risk factor in several cancers.

In 2009 Oxford University released a study that appeared in The Journal of the National Cancer Instiute that syays that even moderate drinking of just three or more alcoholic beverages a week measurably raises woman’s risk of developing cancer.

Other even more recent studies continue to demonstrate that even moderate drinking may have harmful effects that raise the risk of cancer. These studies contraindicate many research papers that point to some of the health benefits that can be earned from moderate drinking, especially in the area of cardiovascular health.

The Oxford study looked at more than 1.3 million women in Britain, with an average age of 55. Scientists determined that drinking alcohol increased the risk by 13 percent of all breast, liver, rectal and upper digestive tract cancers in the women in the study.

Women who took two drinks or fewer per week were taken as the baseline. The consumption of alcohol had a direct correspondence of increased cancer risk. Those who drank three to six alcoholic beverages weekly had a 2 percent greater risk for all forms of cancer. Women who consumed from seven to 14 drinks a week (one to two per day) contracted cancer at a 5 percent higher rate. And those downing 15 or more weekly (two or more a day) had a 15 percent greater risk for cancer.
Alcohol consumption was also connected to a greater risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus and larynx, but only in current smokers (not ex-smokers or never smokers).

The effect of increased cancer rates didn’t vary among the type of alcoholic beverage consumed – whether beer, wine, liqueurs or spirits – suggesting that the danger lies in the alcoholic content, since alcohol is the only major element consistently present in each form of drink.

(This also correlates to the benefits supposedly endowed on vascular health by alcohol consumption. At first researchers presumed it was only red wine with its small amounts of Resveratol and other ingredients that provided health benefits. Many researchers now look at the vascular dilation effect of any alcohol as providing the puported health benefits of alcoholic drinks.)

“The risk of cancer was similar in women who drank wine exclusively and in women who drank a mixture of alcoholic drinks,” said study author Naomi Allen, of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University. “This suggests that alcohol, rather than other substances contained in specific alcoholic beverages, is the most important factor in determining cancer risk.”
Referring to these results, Michael Lauer, director of the Division of Prevention and Population Sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md., wrote in an editorial that “there is no level of alcohol consumption that can be considered safe.”
Scientists have long known that drinkers have a higher incidence of breast cancer, but little research has been done on the relationship between alcohol and women’s cancer. Regarding how alcohol might increase cancer risk, Allen speculated that “there is evidence that moderate alcohol intake – at the levels studied here – increase circulating levels of sex hormones, which are known to be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.”

More recent work in 2011 also demonstrates how alcohol consumption increases the risk of pancreatic cancers.

Using data from the Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II), Susan M. Gapstur, Ph.D., M.P.H., and colleagues from the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, weighed in on the issue as well. They looked at the association between alcohol intake and pancreatic cancer. The CPS-II is a long-term prospective study of U.S. adults 30 years and older. Initial data on alcohol consumption was gathered in 1982, and based on follow-up through 2006, there were 6,847 pancreatic cancer deaths among one million participants.

The authors found a definitive link between alchohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.  The study showed that while alcohol consumption had previously been linked to acute and chronic pancreatitis it had never been linked so demonstrably to pancreatic cancer.

M.D. Anderson, one of the leading cancer centers in the country joined the reprise releasing the following statement: "Research shows that drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases your chances of developing cancer, including oral cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer,"

Although doctors aren't sure exactly how alcohol influences cancer development, they speculate that it is the ethanol or alcohol in liquor, wine or beer that damages cells, making them unstable and vulnerable to cancer.

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