Another good reason to think before you drink.

  • Posted on: 21 August 2015
  • By: Dr Emma
Blog category: 
Control Alcohol Hypnotherapy Chester Hypnosis Cheshire

Low Risk Drinking and Alcohol related Cancers

It has long been know that heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to a significant increased risk of several cancers, especially in smokers. These Alcohol-related cancers include cancer of the colorectum, female breast, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, liver and oesophagus.

Less well understood has been the association between light to moderate drinking and cancer risk, especially in people who have never smoked.

Cao and colleagues (BMJ 2015;351:h4238) publish the results of 2 large cohort studies from the US in the British Medical Journal today examining exactly these issues.

What did they find?

Their results suggest that risk of cancer is not appreciably increased for light to moderate drinking men (up to 2 drinks a day) who have never smoked; however, the risk of alcohol-related cancer, mainly breast cancer, increase even within the range up to one standard drink a day in women who have never smoked.

What are the consequences for guidelines on low risk drinking?

Such guidelines consider overall risk to health, including but not limited to cancer, but these results give weight to the current low risk drinking guidelines which suggest low risk drinking should be limited to no more than 10g pure alcohol a day for women and 20g for men.  This equates to roughly one standard drink per day for women (about 1.25 units, a small to medium glass of wine) and 2 standard drinks for men (3 units) for men.

This study does suggest though that even for women who have never smoked, even one glass of wine a day can increase the risk of breast cancer.

The associated BMJ Editorial makes the suggestion that people with a family history of cancer, especially women with a family history of breast cancer should consider reducing their alcohol intake to below these recommended limits, or even abstaining altogether, in the light of the now well established link between moderate drinking and alcohol related cancers.

You can view the full BMJ Article here at BMJ Online



► Its important to remember there is no such thing as no risk drinking, the guidelines are for low risk drinking.

► Remember, if you have a moderate to heavy regular or long term drinking habit, it can be dangerous to stop drinking suddenly. It is always advisable to seek the help and advice of your own doctor.

► If you need help to cut down your drinking or wish to abstain completely, call me on 01244 470181 to discuss your particular needs, the various helps available to you and how my services can help support you.