ASCO: Alcohol Linked to Several Types of Cancer

ASCO: Alcohol Linked to Several Types of Cancer

"People typically don't associate drinking beer, wine, and hard liquor with increasing their risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes", said Bruce Johnson, M.D., FASCO, ASCO president.

Cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, head and neck cancer are all linked to alcohol. Approximately 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the US, that is about 19,500 deaths are alcohol related, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He added, however, that the link between alcohol and cancer has been established firmly, giving the medical community much-needed guidance on how people can reduce risks for the disease.

The American Society of Clinical Oncologists have released a statement urging drink lovers to watch their alcohol consumption.

Provide alcohol screening and brief interventions in clinical settings.

Maintain limits on days and hours of sale.

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The doctors' group is also calling for new public health initiatives to curb alcohol use, from taxes to restrictions on ads targeting minors, like the new ban on alcohol advertising on New York City's subways and buses slated to go into effect in January.

Alcohol is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Cancer Research.

The researchers also stated that if the drinker ceases consuming alcohol for 20 years or more, the possibility of cancer regresses back to that of non-drinkers.

Yet few adults, when asked, identify alcohol consumption as a risk factor for cancer, even though the vast majority were familiar with other cancer risk factors, like smoking and sun exposure, a recent ASCO survey of 4,016 adults found. This knowledge empowers doctors "to help their patients reduce their risk of cancer".

To reduce the risks, the statement includes several recommendations. The ASCO statement also suggests that while the greater risks are seen with heavy long-term use, even low alcohol consumption or moderate consumption can increase cancer risk.

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