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Women Increase Cancer Risk with Moderate Alcohol

by Susanne Morrone

(NaturalNews) On Feb. 26, 2009, ScienceDaily reports results from a seven-year study by Oxford University researchers, UK. The study associated alcohol consumption and cancer in 1,280,296 women. Even low to moderate alcohol use showed a significant increase in cancer risk and may account for nearly 13% of the cancers of the breast, liver, rectum and upper aero-digestive tract combined.

Prior studies have focused on alcohol's impact on breast cancer, while little has been reported on overall cancer risk and site-specific cancer in women. Participants were recruited between 1996 and 200l, and were followed on the average of over seven years. Most had just one drink per day which is typical in high-income countries. Very few drank three or more drinks per day. Regardless of the type of alcohol, it did not alter the association between consumption and cancer risk.

Dr. Naomi Allen and her colleagues found 68,775 women from the group were diagnosed with cancer. Women smokers had an increased risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, and larynx. Each additional alcoholic drink regularly consumed per day was associated with 11 additional breast cancers per 1000 women up to age 75, one additional cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, one additional cancer of the rectum, and an increase of 0.7 each for esophageal, laryngeal, and liver cancers. For these cancers combined, there was an excess of about 15 cancers per 1000 women per drink per day. (The background incidence for these cancers was estimated to be 118 per 1000 women in developed countries.)

The authors also stated: "Although the magnitude of the excess absolute risk associated with one additional drink per day may appear small for some cancer sites, the high prevalence of moderate alcohol drinking among women in many populations means that the proportion of cancers attributable to alcohol is an important public health issue."

Two doctors from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in Bethesda, MD, agreed. Michael Lauer M.D., and Paul Sorlie, Ph.D. wrote in an accompanying editorial that although other studies have shown some cardiovascular benefits with moderate alcohol consumption, the excess cancer risk identified in the current study may outweigh that benefit. They said, "From a standpoint of cancer risk, the message of this report could not be clearer. There is no level of alcohol consumption that can be considered safe."

The Oxford University researchers identified the cancer cases through the National Health Service Central Registries. Their full report is listed in the March 4 Journal of the American Cancer Institute.

Other factors not mentioned in this study may be worth considering. Women have less muscle mass than men, which means less water in the body for the dilution principle. The transit time through the liver is slower. The liver also may be sluggish from a number of other toxic assaults. The question of chemical additives in the products also has bearing since there are no legal requirements to list them.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2009, February 26). Million Women Study Shows Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption Associated With Increased Cancer Risk.
ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from…
The Washington Post (Feb. 25, 2009) "Women: How Bad is a Regular Nip?"

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