Researchers from Otago University in New Zealand are warning the long-term effects of alcohol consumption are even worse than previously reported, linking the substance to seven types of cancer.
The consumption of alcohol, like any other drug, will remain a constant as long as people continue to find the effects enjoyable. Any attempts to stamp out its use simply move the substance to the black market, as the United States discovered during the Prohibition era. Countries like Saudi Arabia which still ban the substance grabble with the negative effects of illicit trade. The key to promoting healthier lifestyles is education. People who like to regularly drink alcohol should be advised to limit their use, and avoid drinking every day.
Study: Even Low Amounts Of Alcohol Can Cause Cancer
The study linking alcohol to seven different forms of cancer was published in the journal Addiction on Thursday. Researchers say the substance can cause cancer in the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and breast. The throat has been identified as the most vulnerable area.
The Otago University study has renewed calls from health experts to educate people around the world about the detrimental effects of drinking. Study author Jennie Connor says her data proves drinking is a direct cause of cancer.
"There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others," Connor wrote. "Even without complete knowledge of biological mechanisms [of how alcohol causes cancer], the epidemiological evidence can support the judgment that alcohol causes cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast."
Connor also took aim at recent claims that moderate drinking can actually be a healthy activity. According to the researcher, there is not sufficient evidence to prove modest alcohol consumption can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
The study identified heavy drinking as the highest risk, but added even low amounts of alcohol can have deadly effects.
"The highest risks are associated with the heaviest drinking but a considerable burden is experienced by drinkers with low to moderate consumption, due to the distribution of drinking in the population," Connor added.
The Guardian offers solutions
Health experts endorsed the findings and said they showed that ministers should initiate more education campaigns in order to tackle widespread public ignorance about how closely alcohol and cancer are connected. The study sparked renewed calls for regular drinkers to be encouraged to take alcohol-free days, and for alcohol packaging to carry warning labels.
RT suggests the implications could be even worse than reported
She admitted, however, that the research has its limitations - particularly because many of the studies relied on people self-reporting their alcohol consumption, and it is not uncommon for people to claim they drink less than they actually do.
CNET notes the study goes beyond previous research
The link between alcohol and cancer is nothing new, with research going back decades. However, this study is large and comprehensive, covering 10 years of global data collected by World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the Global Burden of Disease Alcohol Group and other bodies.