Even A Glass of Alcohol A Day Can Increase Women’s Risk for Cancers

A study published in February 2009 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports that low levels of alcohol consumption may be responsible for about 5% of cancers in American women (or 30,000 cases a year), Thomas Maugh writes in a Los Angeles Times story. This newfound risk of low or moderate consumption of alcohol may offset its cardiovascular benefits.

For more than seven years, the British-led research followed more than 1 million women between ages of 45 and 75. That is one in every four U.K. women in their age group. The study found that “[h]aving a daily drink was associated with 11 additional breast cancers per year per 1,000 women, one additional cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, one additional cancer of the rectum, and 0.7 additional cases each for esophageal, laryngeal and liver cancers.” Two drinks a day doubles the cancer rates, and a third drink triples the figure.

Leader of this research, Naomi E. Allen of the University of Oxford, thinks it’s too soon to draw a conclusion on whether women should abandon their daily drinks. Allen is working on a separate study of potential cardiovascular benefits using the same group of study subjects, which she and other scientists hope will bring the overall benefits and risks of alcohol consumption to light.

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