Cancer: Links to Moderate Drinking Among Middle-Aged Women

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Cancer: Links to Moderate Drinking Among Middle-Aged Women

 

Transcript:

 

Host:  Medical University of South Carolina

 

Welcome to this month’s Women’s Health newsletter.  Our topic is middle-aged women who drink alcohol may have increased cancer risks.  Research involving more that a million middle-aged women finds that even moderate drinking raises their risk for breast, liver and other cancers.  In fact, it’s estimated that for every added drink regularly consumed each day, there would be about 15 extra cases of cancer of the breast, liver, rectum and mouth and throat diagnosed for every 1000 women up to the age of 75. 

 

The report is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.  Lead researcher Naomi Allen says even relatively low levels of drinking, on the order of one alcoholic drink per day, increases a woman’s risk of developing cancer.  The study found that moderate drinking accounts for 13 percent of breast, liver, rectum and upper respiratory digestive tract cancers among women.  Even low levels of drinking can raise a woman’s risk of developing cancer of the liver and rectum. 

 

Additionally, smoking and high alcohol consumption are now linked to cancers of the mouth and throat in women.  For the study, Allen collected data on more than 1.2 million middle-aged British women.  Most of the women in the study had one drink a day.  And a smaller percentage had three or more drinks a day.  After a study period of close to eight years, follow-up results indicated approximately 69,000 women developed cancer. 

 

Base on the study results, the risk of cancer increased as alcohol consumption increased.  The type of alcohol consumed appeared to make no difference.  Dr. Susan M. Gabster of the American Cancer Society says the findings confirm and expand on those from previous studies in men, and smaller studies of women.  However, Dr. Gabster indicates that there are questions that remain unanswered.  For example, it’s unclear whether someone who drinks several glasses of wine on one day during the week has the same risk as someone who drinks one glass of wine per day with a meal. 

 

In addition, the effects of quitting or reducing drinking on cancer risks are also unclear, she notes.  On the other hand, decisions regarding drinking and health are further complicated by numerous studies that suggest the consumption of alcohol, especially red wine, can deter heart disease.  In light of these findings, Dr. Gabster says women who are concerned about their cancer risks versus the risk of cardiovascular disease might want to discuss the potential risks and benefits of even low alcohol intake with their doctors.

 

For more information, always consult your doctor.  Thank you for listening.  Please visit our website for more information on health and wellness topics.


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