Dangerous drop ... Just one drink of alcohol a day increases a woman’s risk of cancer. Picture: Thinkstock Source: News Limited
JUST one alcoholic drink a day can increase a woman’s chance of getting cancer says an alarming new study.
The finding challenges healthy drinking guidelines set by our National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) that allow two drinks a day.
And it underlines the unfairness of the gender divide showing men don’t face the same cancer risk from alcohol.
Men have to consume more than two alcoholic drinks per day and smoke before their risk of cancer appreciably increases.
The Harvard Research to be published in the British Medical Journal today bears out Cancer Council Australia calls that we can reduce our risk of getting cancer by making lifestyle changes.
One in two men and one in three women will develop cancer by age 85.
At risk ... The study suggests breast tissue may be more susceptible to the cancer-causing properties of alcohol than other tissue. Picture: Thinkstock Source: ThinkStock
Breast cancer was the leading alcohol-related cancer in women, the study found.
In men colorectal cancer was the major alcohol-associated cancer.
The authors suggest that “breast tissue might be more susceptible to alcohol than other organs”.
The study examined cancer cases that occurred among 88,084 women participating in the US Nurses’ Health Study and the 47,881 men taking part in the US Professionals Follow-up study.
They were interviewed about their smoking and drinking habits and researchers wanted to find whether alcohol consumption alone, rather than smoking and drinking was associated with increased cancer risk.
A woman faces a 13 per cent increased risk of breast cancer if she consumes 5-14 grams of alcohol a day, the study found.
This is the equivalent of just one drink a day. One standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol.
The NHMRC guidelines say: “For healthy men and women, drinking of no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury”.
Hitting the bottle ... The association between alcohol and cancer gets stronger as people age. Picture: Supplied Source:Supplied
The association between alcohol and cancer is also stronger for ages 65 and above, the study found.
Increased frequency of drinking raised cancer risk in men but not women, the research found.
However, binge drinking increased cancer risk in women but not men, the study found.
It is estimated alcohol consumption has caused 3.6 per cent of all cancers worldwide, 1.7 per cent on women and 5.2 per cent in men.
It didn’t matter whether people consumed beer wine or spirits, all alcoholic beverages increased cancer risk.
The authors say this suggests the ethanol in alcohol is the primary cancer causing agent.
More than 3.5 million or one in five Australians consume more than an average two standard drinks per day, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows.
Five million Australians drink five or more alcoholic beverages on a single occasion at least once a month, the AIHW found.
Deadly ... The study authors suggest it's the ethanol in alcohol that increases cancer risk. Picture: News Corp AustraliaSource: News Limited
Earlier this year the CANCER COUNCIL VICTORIA found convincing evidence that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the bowel, breast, mouth, throat, voice box, oesophagus (food pipe) and liver.
It linked more than 5000 new cases of these cancers each year to long-term drinking.
And estimated that 22 per cent of the nation’s breast cancer cases were linked to alcohol consumption. It also factored in new evidence linking alcohol to bowel cancer in men.
In 2009 the U’S MILLION WOMEN STUDY found for every additional drink regularly consumed per day, an extra 11 women in every 1,000 would develop breast cancer, an extra one in every 1,000 women would develop cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, a further one in 1,000 would get cancer of the rectum, and an extra 0.7 in every 1,000 women would get cancers of the oesophagus, larynx and liver.
This meant alcohol caused an extra 15 cancers per 1000 women up to age 75.
Despite repeated evidence of alcohol’s role in increasing cancer risk a recent Cancer Council Victoria survey found only 9% of respondents listed limiting alcohol as a way to decrease their cancer risk.
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