When it comes to your drinking habits, you probably think that you’re on the safe side as long as you’re keeping your alcohol consumption to only one or two glasses of your favorite beverage a night. However, according to new academic work, it turns out that even those few glasses may be increasing your likelihood of developing cancer.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a study in the journal Lancet Oncology that looked at data showing alcohol consumption over a 10-year period beginning in 2010 and the appearance of cancer by the end of the decade. This totaled over 740,000 cases in 2020.
What scientists discovered is that there is definitely an association between specific cancers, such as breast, colon, and oral cancers, and alcoholic beverage consumption. In fact, they believe that alcohol played a role in up to 24 percent of new breast cancer cases, 20 percent of new colon cancers, 15 percent of new rectal cancers, and 13 percent of oral and liver new cancers in 2020 alone. Even more importantly, they saw this link even in light and moderate drinkers who only consumed up to two drinks per day regularly.
“Alcohol consumption causes a substantial burden of cancer globally,” Isabelle Soerjomataram, MD, explained in a statement. “Yet the impact on cancers is often unknown or overlooked, highlighting the need for implementation of effective policy and interventions to increase public awareness of the link between alcohol use and cancer risk, and decrease overall alcohol consumption to prevent the burden of alcohol-attributable cancers.”
Researchers are still parsing if specific types of alcohol may put you more at risk of developing cancer as well as which other cancers are most likely to be present because of this association. But for the time being, it may be a smart idea to rethink your drinking habits and how they could affect your health, especially if you are at heightened risk for cancer.