Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems
Even one drink a day increases a woman’s risk of cancer
Just one drink a day increases a woman’s risk of cancer, according to a British study of nearly 1.3 million middle-age women. The study is the largest ever to investigate the link between alcohol and cancer in women, as recently reported in the Journal of National Cancer Institute. The results of the study are truly sobering. Based on their findings, researchers estimate that approximately 13 percent of cancers in women (breast, aero-digestive tract, liver and rectum) can be directly attributed to alcohol consumption.
This evidence is contrary to earlier studies that seemed to indicate cardiovascular benefits of moderate drinking. In the U.S., at least 50 percent of women drink occasionally, with the government’s own dietary guidelines stating that one drink a day for women can have some beneficial effects. However, the British study showed that regardless of whether the woman drank wine, beer or liquor, even as little as 10 grams of alcohol per day on average increased the risk of cancer. And, the cancer risk increased with each additional drink consumed on average per day.
Increased cancer risk outweighs potential benefits
In an editorial that accompanied the study’s findings, two experts from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, emphasized that the results are particularly concerning given the large population of women included in the study. “Among women, the major cause of death by far during the middle age years is cancer,” Michael S. Lauer and Paul Sorlie wrote in their editorial. “For this large group, the only reasonable recommendation we can make is there is no clear evidence that alcohol has medical benefits.”
Interestingly, a committee is currently rewriting the federal government’s dietary guidelines, including those for alcohol consumption. The group’s chairperson has already stated that the committee will consider the new study in their rewriting process. For Lauer and Sorlie, the message from the study is clear. “From a standpoint of cancer risk,” they wrote, “the message of this report could not be clearer. There is no level of alcohol consumption that can be considered safe.”
Reprinted with permission from Face at faceproject.org, Molly Black, author March 31.09
- Lauer. Michael and Sorlie, Paul. “Alcohol, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: treat with caution.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2009: 101:282-283.
- “Million woken study shows even moderate alcohol consumption associated with increased cancer risk.” ScienceDaily, 24 February 2009.
- Stein, Rob. ” A drink a day raises women’s risk of cancer, study indicates.” Washington Post, 25 February 2009.