When it comes to light-to-moderate drinking (defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as up to one drink a day for women, up to two for men), the American Society of Clinical Oncology noted that it can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer in women, and esophageal cancer for men and women.
The researchers add that the benefits of alcohol - especially the widely held belief that red wine improves cardiovascular health - has likely been overstated and doctors should not recommend alcohol consumption to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Drinking in general, as well as problem drinking and heavy drinking, are increasing in the USA and affect every segment of society, including older adults, women, ethnic and racial minorities, as well as the poor. One such is a ban on advertising alcohol in the buses and subways of New York City that begins as of January 2018.
A recent survey finds that 70% of Americans are unaware of how alcohol is linked to potential cancer.
It finds that approximately 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the US can be attributed to alcohol consumption.
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Cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, head and neck cancer are all linked to alcohol.
"ASCO believes that a proactive stance by the Society to minimize excessive exposure to alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention", the statement, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said. The study's authors said their findings indicated "a public health crisis", especially with the increase in problem drinking among its more than 43,000 participants. "We don't have randomized trials, but sometimes when you start looking at the coherence of all the evidence, including the observational epidemiology, the lab studies, the mechanistic studies, you begin to see a picture and get more clarity".
There has been some debate over whether alcohol itself, or other elements come the compositions of various alcoholic beverages are cancer-causing.
Alcohol is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Cancer Research. Since there's evidence linking breast cancer to drinking, companies shouldn't be "exploiting the color pink" or using pink ribbons to show their support of breast cancer research, the authors said.
"That puts some weight behind this", she said.
"For the liver it is a bit different: alcohol causes cirrhosis and it is actually the cirrhosis that causes the cancer", she says.