Island News

Drinkers face greater cancer risk

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. People who consume, on average, more than one alcoholic drink daily face a significantly higher risk of developing six types of cancer, according to
08 Aug 2009 12:00

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. People who consume, on average, more than one alcoholic drink daily face a significantly higher risk of developing six types of cancer, according to sobering new research.
The Canadian study, published this week in the journal Cancer Detection and Prevention, is one of the most detailed examinations ever done of the relationship between drinking and cancer.
It found that moderate and heavy drinkers of beer and spirits are markedly more likely to develop cancer than teetotallers or occasional drinkers.
“The heaviest drinkers had the highest risk, whether you look at the quantity consumed or the duration of drinking,’’ said Andrea Benedetti, an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health at McGill University, in Montreal.
“And the risk was really driven by beer and spirits.’’
Wine drinkers seem to have a slightly lower cancer risk, although Dr Benedetti cautioned that the numbers are not solid enough to draw conclusions.
In the study, a heavy drinker was one with 180 or more “drink-years’’ – a calculation of the average drinks a day multiplied by the number of years of drinking.
For example, someone who has 10 drinks daily for 18 years has 180 drink-years, as has someone who consumes three drinks a day for 60 years.
The research team found that regular heavy consumption of beer and spirits – meaning 180 drink-years or more – increased the risk of esophageal and liver cancer more than sevenfold.
The risk of colon, stomach and prostate cancer was about 80 per cent higher among heavy drinkers, and lung-cancer risk rose by almost 60 per cent.
Researchers examined the link between alcohol and 13 cancers.
Although the link was strong for the six types of cancer cited above, they found drinking posed no apparent excess risk for seven other types: cancers of the pancreas, rectum, kidney or bladder, melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“’This study crystallises many strands of evidence from different studies on different types of cancer and alcohol consumption,’’ said Jack Siemiatycki, the Canada research chair in environment and cancer at the University of Montreal.
The findings were derived from a large occupational cancer study conducted in Montreal in the 1980s, involving 3571 participants – all men ages 35 to 70.



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