New study links cancer risk to alcohol for women with family history of the disease


People with a family history of cancer should consider giving up alcohol.

A team of scientists behind a major study have found that one drink a day raises a woman's risk of getting breast cancer or other forms of the disease linked to alcohol.

The research looked at data from two studies in the US which ran for up to 30 years.

It found that in women, light to moderate drinking was associated with an increased risk of cancers with an established link to alcohol consumption - that is, cancer of the colorectum, female breast, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, liver, and oesophagus.

But the increased risk was driven mainly by breast cancer.

It also says that similar findings emerged for light to moderate male drinkers who smoked.

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"No significant association was found in men who never smoked, or in women outside the relation with breast cancer," the British Medical Journal says.

"Also, no association was found between light to moderate drinking and the broad category of all cancers, but because different biological pathways determine the effect of different carcinogens, this relation is not particularly informative, since it depends mainly on sample size and composition of cancers in the population under study".

Light to moderate drinking was defined as a daily intake of 5 to 14.9g of pure alcohol for women, and 5 to 29.9g for men.

Professor Frank Murray is president of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance.


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