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Light to Moderate Alcohol Intake Increases Cancer Risk

Dr. Edward L. Giovannucci, MD, ScD, Professor of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues reported that light to moderate alcohol intake increases cancer risk. The research team urged for updated health precautions on alcohol intake. The research team explained that the association of alcohol intake in men was correlated with tobacco use. However, in women, they are predisposed to breast cancer and other cancers even if they only consume one drink a day regardless of their smoking status.

The research team utilized data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses' Health Study to conduct their study. 51,529 men who were health professionals (40 to 75 years old) were enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study in 1986 and 121,700 women who were nurses (30 to 55 years old) were enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study in 1976. The research team studied the correlation between cancer and light to moderate alcohol intake. The absence of tobacco use in the study of cancer risk affected by alcohol intake was also assessed. 1611 cases in men were recorded and monitored during follow-up and 9016 cases in women were also monitored and recorded respectively. Colorectal cancer was the leading cancer in men and breast cancer was the most dominant cancer in women during this study. Both men and women who smoked and consumed alcohol above normal levels are at higher risk for cancer. Possible confounders considered by the research team include aspirin use, multivitamin, and age. The research team proposed that alcohol intake level should also come with information on family history of cancer and smoking history.

Dr. Jürgen Rehm, Ph.D., from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, uninvolved in this study pointed out that this study has partly confirmed that higher intake of alcohol increases cancer risk. He added that those with a family history of cancer are encouraged to stop drinking alcohol or reduce their alcohol consumption below the normal level.

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