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Study Sheds More Light On Link Between Alcohol And Risks of Death and Cancer

Jun 23, 2018 05:28 AM EDT
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Light drinking has been linked to protection from several heart diseases before. This time, researchers have found evidence that light or moderate drinking can be linked to increased risks of cancer and death. 

One Drink Per Day

Many studies on alcohol involve the harmful effects of heavy drinking and its relation to mortality. Meanwhile, this new study focused on lifetime drinking on a light to moderate level and its link to cancer and death risks.

"The results suggested that risk of some cancers increased with each additional alcoholic drink per week consumed," wrote the authors of the study published at PLOS Medicine.

The study also found that light drinkers, those who take less than 1 drink per day, have the least chances of combined risk for cancer and death compared to those who consume more than the said amount.

"The results indicate that intakes between 1 and less than 5 drinks per week were associated with the lowest combined risk of cancer or death," the study concluded. Authors also noted that findings do not support any protective effect of light to moderate drinking.

The researchers evaluated around 100,000 individuals with ages ranging from 55 to 74 years old between 1993 and 2001 and studied 9 years of follow-up results.

However, the research is limited to a population of older adults and may be confounded by physical activity, socioeconomic status, and binge drinking factors.

Contrasting Findings On Alcohol Effects  

Researchers conducted the study to clear up mixed public health messages brought about by contrasting findings on the health effects including the negative effect on brain and positive effects on healthy diet.

Moderate drinking has been linked by studies to lower risks of several cardiovascular diseases compared to abstaining or heavy drinking.

In another study published in The Lancet this April, researchers suggest the threshold of low-risk drinking and urged for lower limits of alcohol consumption.

"Among current drinkers, the threshold for lowest risk of all-cause mortality was about 100g per week," wrote the authors. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) guidelines, one standard drink or a serving of 12 ounces of beer is equivalent to 14 grams of alcohol.

Urge To Review US Guidelines

The same study published in The Lancet found no difference in alcohol consumption effect on life expectancy in men and women which questions the NIAAA guidelines on the benefits of drinking which recommends not more than two drinks a day for men and one per day for non-pregnant women.

"When the U.S. reviews their guidelines, I would hope they would use this as evidence to consider lowering the guidelines for men probably in line with female guidelines," lead author Angel Wood told The Washington Post. 

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