A team of researchers based at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conducted a large study that explored the association between light to moderate drinking and increased risk for cancer.
Using data from two large US studies that tracked the health of 88,084 women and 47,881 men for up to 30 years, the researchers assessed risk of total cancer as well as known alcohol-related cancers.
Their findings indicate an increased risk for cancer in women who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol. The risk of cancer was higher only in men who were ever smokers, but no association was seen in men who were never smokers.
Light to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a small but nonsignificant increased risk of total cancer in men and women, regardless of smoking history. More research is needed on the interaction between smoking and drinking on cancer risk.
Light to moderate drinking is defined as up to one standard drink (15 g alcohol) per day for women and up to two standard drinks (30 g alcohol) per day for men.
Alcohol consumption within these limits is recommended to minimize the risk for cancer; however, people with a family history of cancer should consider reducing their drinking to below these limits or abstaining altogether.
Even light and moderate drinking (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) is associated with an increased risk of certain alcohol related cancers in women and male smokers, suggests a large study published by The BMJ today.