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Alcohol Could Cause 7 Types of Cancer, Study Finds

Jul 25, 2016 03:46 AM EDT
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Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, a new analysis found.

According to Jennie Conor from the University of Otago in New Zealand, alcohol is estimated to have led to half a million cancer-related deaths in 2012 alone. This already constitutes 5.8 percent of cancer deaths worldwide.

The study, which was published in the scientific journal Addiction, found credible evidence that conclude that drinking alcohol is a direct cause of cancer of the colon, breast, and several other types aside from liver cancer, of which it is most associated with.

"There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others," Connor wrote.

"Even without complete knowledge of biological mechanisms [of how alcohol could lead to cancer], the epidemiological evidence can support the judgment that alcohol causes cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast."

According to Connor, evidence also suggests that alcohol could likely cause skin, prostate and pancreatic cancer.

Connor came up with a conclusion after analyzing previous studies and reviews conducted over the past 10 years by the World Cancer Research Fund, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organization's cancer body and other cancer research authoritative bodies.

While heavy drinkers have the highest risks, people who consume even moderate to low levels of alcohol are still at risk, Connor said.

Moreover, Connor noted a kind of "dose-response relationship" between drinking alcohol and each of the seven cancers stated. This means that the more alcohol the person drinks, the more likely the person will develop these cancers.

According to Connor, the link between alcohol and throat and mouth cancers were stronger than the link between alcohol and the other types of cancers.

The study shows that drinking more than 50 grams of alcohol a day was associated with four to seven times greater risk of developing mouth, throat and esophagus cancers compared with not drinking, Live Science reports.

However, Conor said that the exact scientific reasons for how alcohol could cause cancer is still undetermined.

The study mentioned scientific theories on the development of these cancers. For instance, the compound called acetaldehyde, which forms when alcohol breaks down, could damage the DNA in the cells of the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver tissues and could lead to cancer.

Moreover, the study also mentioned that alcohol may increase the levels of estrogen in the body and could lead to breast cancer.

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