alcohol, getting cancer

The American Society of Clinical Oncology is warning us that alcohol increases the risk of getting cancer (Journal of Clinical Oncology, online Nov. 7, 2017). What might that mean in practical terms?

What Is the Link Between Drinking Alcohol and Getting Cancer?

Heavy drinkers are far more likely than teetotalers to develop cancer of the mouth and throat, liver, larynx and colon. Women who drink even modestly are more prone to breast cancer. Drinkers are also more susceptible to esophageal cancer.

While more Americans are drinking than in previous decades, few recognize that alcohol can contribute to the risk of getting cancer. Worldwide, more than 5 percent of cancers are attributable to alcohol. The risk rises with increased alcohol consumption.

What Should Be Done About This Link?

ASCO recommends that states screen adults for excess alcohol consumption, restrict alcohol advertising to young people, enforce the laws prohibiting alcohol sales to minors and limit the opportunities for people to purchase alcohol. Presumably, these measures would reduce the number of people drinking.

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