The Cancer Council Australia (CCA) Alcohol Working Group has prepared a position statement on alcohol use and cancer. The statement has been reviewed by external experts and endorsed by the CCA Board.
- Alcohol use is a cause of cancer. Any level of alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer; the level of risk increases in line with the level of consumption.
- It is estimated that 5070 cases of cancer (or 5% of all cancers) are attributable to long-term chronic use of alcohol each year in Australia.
- Together, smoking and alcohol have a synergistic effect on cancer risk, meaning the combined effects of use are significantly greater than the sum of individual risks.
- Alcohol use may contribute to weight (fat) gain, and greater body fatness is a convincing cause of cancers of the oesophagus, pancreas, bowel, endometrium, kidney and breast (in postmenopausal women).
- The existing evidence does not justify the promotion of alcohol use to prevent coronary heart disease, as the previously reported role of alcohol in reducing heart disease risk in light-to-moderate drinkers appears to have been overestimated.
- CCA recommends that to reduce their risk of cancer, people limit their consumption of alcohol, or better still avoid alcohol altogether.
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