Among the many harmful effects of heavy drinking, one of the least discussed is the threat of cancer. In early November, the American Society of Clinical Oncology published a statement in the Journal of Clinical Oncology saying that even light drinking may slightly raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer and increase the chance of esophageal cancer. Heavy drinkers also face heightened risks of mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the voice box and liver cancer.
“The message is not, ‘Don’t drink.’ It’s if you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less. And if you don’t drink, don’t start,” said Dr. Noelle LoConte, lead author of the ASCO statement in a New York Times article. “It’s different than tobacco, where we say, ‘Never smoke. Don’t start.’ This is a little more subtle.”
This statement comes on the heels of increased alcohol consumption throughout the U.S. Reports of increased breast cancer risk stem from a report released in May 2017 by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. The report analyzed 119 studies, data on 12 million women and over 250,000 breast cancer cases. It concluded that just one alcoholic drink per day can increase breast cancer risk.