When it comes to cancer risk, there is no safe amount of alcohol intake. In fact, even moderate drinking – which means 1-2 drinks each day – over a number of years increases the overall cancer risk by 5%.
This is important information for the general public to know, particularly for those already at increased risk for certain cancers. When it comes to cancer, there is not a safe amount of daily alcohol consumption.
This conclusion comes from a decade-long study of more than 63,000 cancer patients (who were matched with a control group of the same number of cancer-free individuals). The cancer risk did vary by cancer site, with the highest risk being associated with daily alcohol use and esophageal cancer, as well as oral, stomach, colorectal, liver and gallbladder cancers. In addition, steady alcohol use increased the risk of breast and prostate cancer. This study controlled for the potentially confounding factors of smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
In short: regularly drinking alcohol – even in moderate amounts – is a preventable risk factor for many types of cancer. While it is fine to ring in the New Year with champagne, it’s best to not make it a nightly habit.
Klein WM, Jacobsen PB, Helzlsouer KJ. Alcohol and cancer risk. JAMA Network Published online December 13, 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.19133