Alcohol and Cancer relations

Is consuming alcohol related with cancer?
• Answer: Cancers which alcohol increases the risk for include breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Women are particularly at risk for alcohol-related cancers.

A study of over 300,000 women published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 demonstrates that even drinking less than one drink a day increases the risk of developing breast cancer. (1)

Drinking two drinks per day is associated with a 25% increase in the risk of breast cancer, and the more alcohol consumed, the greater the risk of developing breast cancer, up to about a 40% increased risk with three drinks a day. (1, 2)

Cancer of the prostate is the second most common cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer.

In one study, both black and white American males showed an increased risk of prostate cancer if they consumed more than 3 drinks per day. (3)

Prostate cancer is common among American men, and many survive with it for long periods. However, treatment for prostate cancer affects quality of life significantly and common side effects include impotence and urinary incontinence.

Colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in both men and women, making it the second most common overall. Alcohol increases the risk of colon cancer. (4) Even when colon cancer does not kill, it disfigures and affects the quality of life. Treatment for colon cancer includes removal of part of the colon and use of a colostomy.

Alcohol is the leading cause of cancers of the neck and throat. (5) Head and neck cancers are generally disfiguring. They also involve changes in diet and the capacity to taste food.

The amount of alcohol that increases the risk of dying of cancer is only slightly higher than some are considering using for supposed health benefits.

1. Hayes, RB, Brown, LM, Schoenberg, JB, Greenberg, RS, Silverman, DT, Schwartz, AG, Swanson, GM, Benichou, J, Liff, JM, Hoover, RN, and Potter, LM. Alcohol use and prostate cancer risk in U.S. blacks and whites. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1996; 143:692-697.
2. Smith-Warner SA, Spiegelman D, Yaun SS, van den Brandt PA, Folsom AR, Goldbohm RA, Graham S, Holmberg L, Howe GR, Marshall JR, Miller AB, Potter JD, Speizer FE, Willett WC, Wolk A, Hunter DJ. Alcohol and breast cancer in women: a pooled analysis of cohort studies. JAMA 1998; Feb 18;279(7): 535-540.
3. Fuchs, CS, Stampfer, MJ, Colditz, GA Giavannucci, EL, Manson, JE, Kawachi, I, Hunter, DJ, Hankinson, SE, Hennekens, CH, Rosner, B, et. al. Alcohol consumption and mortality among women. New England Journal of Medicine. 1995; 332: 1245-1250.
4. Schatzkin, A. and Longnecker, M. P. Alcohol and Breast Cancer. Cancer. 1994; 74 (3 Suppl): 1101-1110.
5. Boutron, MC, Faivre, J, Dop, MC, Quiport, V, Senesse, P. Tobacco, alcohol, and colorectal tumors: a multistep process. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1995; 141: 18-1046.

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