A new study has revealed that two alcoholic drinks a day will also raise the risk of breast and bowel cancer, busting the myth that only excessive drinkers put their lives in danger.
According to researchers, alcohol is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, larynx and liver. Lead author professor Jennie Connor, said the breast cancer findings are worrying. "About 60 percent of all alcohol-attributable cancer deaths in New Zealand are women from breast cancer," Connor added. We estimate 71 breast cancer deaths in 2007 and 65 in 2012 were due to drinking, and about a third of these were associated with drinking less than two drinks a day, on average.
"Although the risk of cancer is much higher in heavy drinkers there are fewer of them, and many alcohol-related breast cancers occur in women, who are drinking at levels that are currently considered acceptable," Connor stated. A third of all alcohol-related deaths in New Zealand are linked to cancer, more than all other chronic diseases combined.
‘A third of all alcohol-related deaths in New Zealand are linked to cancer, more than all other chronic diseases combined.’
"There was little difference between men and women in the number of cancer deaths due to alcohol, even though men drink much more heavily than women, because breast cancer deaths balanced higher numbers of deaths in men from other cancer types," Professor Connor explained. These premature - and avoidable - deaths from cancer resulted in an average of 10.4 years of life lost per person affected, with more loss of life among Maori than non-Maori people, and breast cancer compared with other cancers.
The sad fact is that all these deaths in New Zealand and the UK are preventable. We know how to avoid them: drink less. "We hope that better understanding of the relationship of alcohol with cancer will help drinkers accept that the current unrestrained patterns of drinking need to change," she said.