Cancer: Links to Moderate Drinking Among
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
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
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.