Heavy drinkers, daily drinkers and those who drink beer or liquor multiple times per week are at significantly higher risk for developing several types of cancer. A recent review of data collected in a large occupational cancer study in Montreal in the 1980s found the link to six types of cancer.
Light drinkers, moderate drinkers and wine drinkers did not face the same increased risks, the researchers reported.
Heavy Drinkers Compared to Other Types
The researchers compared a group of heavy drinkers - those who drank daily or multiple times per day - to a group that were moderate drinkers or abstainers. Those who were in the heavy drinking category were seven times more likely to develop esophageal cancer, 80% more likely to have colon cancer and 50% more likely to develop lung cancer.
"We looked at the data in two ways," said Benedetti, an assistant professor at McGill's Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. "We compared people who drank heavily to our reference group, who abstained or drank only very occasionally. We also looked for trends across our categories: non-drinkers, weekly drinkers and daily drinkers."
"We saw increased risk for esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer," Benedetti added. "The strongest risk was for esophageal and liver cancer."
Greater Chances of These Cancers
The study found that heavy drinkers face a greater chance of developing the following cancers:
- Esophageal cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Colon cancer
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
Unhealthy In Many Ways
"For the most part we showed that light drinkers were less affected or not affected at all," said Dr. Benedetti. "It is people who drink every day or multiple times a day who are at risk. This adds to the growing body of evidence that heavy drinking is extremely unhealthy in so many ways. Cancer very much included."
"This study crystallizes many strands of evidence from different studies on different types of cancer and alcohol consumption," said Dr. Jack Siematycki, professor, Canada Research Chair and Guzzo Chair in Environment and Cancer, at the University of Montreal.
Source: Beneditti, A. et. al. "Lifetime consumption of alcoholic beverages and risk of 13 types of cancer in men: Results from a case–control study in Montreal." Cancer Epidemiology Vol. 32, Issue 5.
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