The American Society of Clinical Oncology is a professional organization representing physicians of all oncology sub-specialties who care for people with cancer. It represents many of the United State’s top cancer doctors. The group is calling attention to the strong correlation between alcohol and cancer. In a statement published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, ASCO cites evidence that even light drinking can slightly raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer and increase a common type of esophageal cancer.
Alcohol drinking is an established risk factor for several cancers. Heavy drinkers face much higher risks of mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the voice box, liver cancer and, to a lesser extent, colorectal cancers, the group cautions. Conflicting data about the impact of alcohol, especially red wine, on the heart is an “additional barrier” to addressing its related cancer risk. But recent research has cast doubt on those positive health claims studies, revealing multiple con founders, including frequent classification of former and occasional alcohol drinkers as nondrinkers, say the statement authors.
“The message is not, ‘Don’t drink.’ It’s, ‘If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less. And if you don’t drink, don’t start,’” said Dr. Noelle LoConte, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lead author of the ASCO statement. “It’s different than tobacco where we say, ‘Never smoke. Don’t start.’ This is a little more subtle.”
Other medical groups have cited the risks of alcohol as a possible cause of cancer. But this is the first time that ASCO has taken a stand.
ASCO then states the goals of the statement as aiming to:
- Promote public education about the risks between alcohol abuse and certain types of cancer;
- Support policy efforts to reduce the risk of cancer through evidence-based strategies that prevent excessive use of alcohol;
- Provide education to oncology providers about the influence of excessive alcohol use and cancer risks and treatment complications, including clarification of conflicting evidence; and
- Identify areas of needed research regarding the relationship between alcohol use and cancer risk and outcomes.
Source: Originally from The New York Times