According to a large scale British study, even low to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of several cancers.
The “Million Women Study” followed nearly 1.3 million women between age 50 and 64 starting in 1997, tracked the association between alcohol consumption and cancer incidence. As reported in the February 24, 2009 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, low to moderate alcohol consumption among women is associated with a statistically significant increase in cancer risk and may account for nearly 13 percent of the cancers of the breast,liver, rectum, and upper aero-digestive tract combined.
In the study, women who drank as little as one alcoholic beverage per day significantly increased their cancer risk. There was no difference between wine, beer or hard liquor.
An accompanying editorial from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute stated, “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”.
I recommend taking stock of your individual risk for cancer and discussing with your physician whether you should limit alcohol intake or avoid it all together. While total abstinence may be the safest choice and may work for some, as with all of our important healthcare decisions, it should be tempered with the reality of our life circumstances.