Light-to-Moderate Drinking Linked to Some Cancers in Women, Male Smokers — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
August 19, 2015

Light-to-Moderate Drinking Linked to Some Cancers in Women, Male Smokers

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Lorenzo Di Francesco, MD, FACP, FHM

In male smokers and women, even light-to-moderate drinking is associated with increased risk for alcohol-related cancers, a BMJ study finds.

Over 135,000 U.S. male and female health professionals reported on their alcohol intake every few years for up to 30 years. During that time, nearly 27,000 incident cancers occurred.

After multivariable adjustment, women who consumed up to one standard drink daily had a 13% increased risk for all alcohol-related cancers combined (cancers of the colorectum, breast, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, liver, and esophagus), relative to abstainers. The association was due mainly to an increase in breast cancer risk. Among men, consuming up to two drinks daily was associated with increased risk for alcohol-related cancers — but only among men who'd ever smoked.

An editorialist writes, "People with a family history of cancer, especially women with a family history of breast cancer, should consider reducing their alcohol intake to below recommended limits, or even abstaining altogether, given the now well established link between moderate drinking and alcohol related cancers."

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