It's not just heavy drinkers who are at a higher risk for cancer: One drink a day can significantly up the chances, too, according to a new study by the National Cancer Institute.
Researchers determined that alcohol-related cancer accounted for 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States in 2009 — and even light and moderate drinkers were at significant risk.
This is far from the first study to have made the link between drinking alcohol and getting cancer. This one, however, delivers important information concerning the quantity of alcohol that may up the odds.
According to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health, in 2009 about 560,000 people died from cancer. Of those deaths, nearly 20,000 cases were linked to alcohol.
“People talk about how to prevent cancer, and about avoiding tobacco and eating better, but this an issue that we think has been missed,” says David Nelson MD, study author and Director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute. “Twenty thousand deaths is a large number.”
Alcohol-related cancer affected men and women equally in 2009, but with different cancers: In women, breast cancer was the most common cause of death; men were likely to have died from oral, pharynx, larynx and esophageal cancer.
An estimated 54 percent of the deaths occurred in people who drank more than three alcoholic drinks a day. However, depending upon the cancer, researchers found that up to 33 percent of people who died from alcohol-related cancer drank an average of one alcoholic beverage a day.
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