There's a Surprising Link Between Alcohol and Cancer

Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Dammit, alcohol. We trusted you.

Alcohol may cause seven forms of cancer, including liver, colon, rectal and breast, according to a study published in the scientific journal Addiction.

"There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others," Jennie Connor, the lead author on the journal report, said, according to the Guardian. "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."

The real bummer with the findings is that, according to Connor, there's enough evidence to conclude that drinking alcohol is a direct cause of cancer — not just a factor among a cocktail of symptoms. Not only that, but the cancer risk level rises the more you drink. Even drinking in moderation may not make a difference — therefore, Connor said, alcohol awareness campaigns should focus on all drinkers, not just those who drink heavily. 

"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 said.

Last year, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that drinking a daily glass of wine actually increased women's likelihood of developing breast cancer.

"For women who have never smoked, risk of alcohol-related cancers (mainly breast cancer) increases even within the range of up to one alcoholic drink a day," the study concluded.

On the upside, Connor found some evidence that giving up alcohol could reverse the risk of some cancers, with better results the longer the subject abstained.

If the evidence is correct, maybe it's a good opportunity to start cutting back.

Read more:
• Study Finds Women Who Regularly Drink Wine Are at a Greater Risk of Breast Cancer
• Science Finally Measured How Happy Alcohol Makes You
• Here's How Much You Can Save By Skipping Alcohol at Your Wedding and Serving Weed Instead

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Max Plenke

Max Plenke is a staff writer at Mic, where he covers breaking news, climate science, health and the future. His work has appeared in Esquire, GQ and Wallpaper. Send story tips to max@mic.com.

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