Less Alcohol Means a Lower Risk of Cancer, Suggests New Study

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There is a link between alcohol and cancer. A new study shows that if people drink less alcohol, they have a lower risk of cancer than the ones that drink more.

Researchers found these results by comparing heavy drinkers with the ones that drank some alcohol or none and followed the cases over a nine-year period.

The study was published on 19 June in the journal PLOS Medicine. Results show that people who drank less than seven drinks a week had a low risk of cancer and death, compared to those that had seven or more drinks in a week. If a person increased their intake of alcohol per week with one drink, the risk of cancer increased.

But there’s also a catch to the results: there is only one link between alcohol and cancer and death, and the researchers couldn’t prove cause and effect. But what’s different about this study is that, according to lead study author Andrew Kunzmann (a postdoctoral research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, Ireland), other studies only looked at cancer and mortality separately:

“What our study does is combine the two outcomes together and [finds] that lighter drinking is associated with the lowest risk of cancer or death.”

Minimizing Alcohol Intake Reduces Risk Of Cancer

The study used questionnaires given to almost 100,000 participants in the US between 1998 and 2000. People had to answer how much they drank in a week and the frequency in the last year. Researchers compared the data with the number of primary cancer diagnosis and with deaths that occurred in the cohort for the next nine years.

Kunzmann stated that “the study results suggest that minimizing alcohol intake may help individuals who already drink to lower their risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as breast, colorectal and liver cancer.”

Kunzmann also added that the participants they had were older adults, so “we’re not really reflecting what happens in younger people if they drink.”

He also explains that “light drinkers tend to be more wealthy or lead healthier lifestyles in a number of ways than never drinkers.” However, they took into consideration factors like smoking, diet, and education in the cohort.

Kunzmann concludes that their study doesn’t tell people to drink or drink less, but they’re “just trying to give them reliable evidence so that they can make their own informed, healthy decisions.”

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Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.


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