Health Sachet No 288:

There has been a lot of confusion about the link between alcohol and cancer.

Experts claimed correlation but not causation between the two. Alcohol industry funded many research claims that showed social drinking is OK, while alcohol abuse is not.

Here is the verdict:

  • Alcohol causes 7 cancers:
    Oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and female breast
  • The risk for some of these cancers (esophageal, head and neck, and liver) reduces when drinking is stopped.
  • There is no safe level for drinking. Low amount is also bad.
  • There is accumulating research supporting the notion that alcohol causes other cancers: cancer of the pancreas, prostate, and skin (melanoma).
  • The exact mechanism is unknown but the hypothesis is that alcohol enters cells very easily, and is then converted into acetaldehyde, which can damage DNA and is a known carcinogen.
  • The UK has issued new guidelines warning that any amount of alcohol increases the risk of developing a range of cancers.
  • The New Zealand Medical Association, the Cancer Society of New Zealand, and the National Heart Foundation have all adopted evidence-based position statements that debunk cardiovascular benefits as a motivation to drink.
  • There is no safe level for drinking from the cancer angle.
  • As you age, cut down on alcohol consumption incrementally.