Alcohol Raises Cancer Risk

Beverages 102 Exhaustive Review of the Literature Reveals Even Moderate Alcohol Intake Increases Risk of Cancer

The Cancer Institute of New South Wales, Australia, has released a comprehensive analysis of current evidence for the association between alcohol consumption and risk of cancer. Limited to systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the highest methodological quality, the 194-page monograph, entitled Alcohol as a Cause of Cancer, revealed that even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with an often dramatic increase in the risk of several types of cancer.

Key findings are as follows:

Alcohol intake of approximately 2 drinks per day increases the risk of

  • cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx by 75 percent,
  • the risk of esophageal cancer by 50 percent, and
  • the risk of laryngeal cancer by 40 percent.

Moderate intake also significantly increases the risk of colorectal cancer, liver cancer, and stomach cancer.

  • Intake of approximately 4 drinks per day increases the risk of any cancer by 22 percent, while
  • 8 drinks per day increases the risk by 90 percent.

The risk of breast cancer is 11 to 22 percent higher in women who drink alcohol than in women who do not.

Comments: The authors were unable to identify levels of consumption associated with no risk of cancer. Although the World Health Organization lists alcohol as a Group-1 carcinogen, as noted in the introduction to this study, few people are aware that even moderate consumption can cause cancer. These findings may be limited by possible underreporting of alcohol use or misclassification of exposure (e.g., light or ex-drinkers classified as non-drinkers).

Nonetheless, information about the association between alcohol and cancer needs to be more widely available so that the public can make informed choices about their behavior.

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH. Research Reference; Lewis S, Campbell S, Proudfoot E, et al. Alcohol as a Cause of Cancer. Sydney, Cancer Institute NSW, May 2008.

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Hepatitis B

Doctor assessing Hepatitis B in alcoholism Some of the highest rates of hepatitis B are in alcoholics and addicts.

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus is carried in blood and body fluids. It can lead to serious liver damage, life-long infection, liver cancer, liver failure and even death. Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can protect you against hepatitis B.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is one of a group of viruses that attacks the liver. Six hepatitis viruses have been identified but three – known as A, B, and C – cause about 90% of the acute hepatitis cases in Canada.

HBV is the most common form of hepatitis virus in the world. It is easily transmitted and is significantly more infective than HIV. HBV is primarily transmitted from one person to another through blood or other body fluids, such as vaginal secretions and semen. It is usually spread through sexual contact or by sharing contaminated needles or other drug equipment. It can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and birth.

The majority of people infected with HBV do not have noticeable symptoms and may unknowingly be experiencing liver damage and infecting others. That is why it is important for those most at risk to be vaccinated against the virus and avoid risky behaviour.

Topics in the linked article include;

  • Symptoms of HBV
  • Risks of Hepatitis B Exposure
  • The Health Effects of Hepatitis B
  • Minimizing Your Risk

Full story at; Health Canada

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Alcoholism Tops Disease Onset

Occasions c uid 1186467 Alcohol Dependence, Depression, Anxiety Top List in New U.S.A. Study. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) study reveals incidence of major psychiatric disorders

This study looked for the first onset of substance use disorders (i.e., alcohol and drug abuse and dependence) and major mood and anxiety disorders.

This landmark survey is the first conducted in the U.S. to identify rates of people who FIRST suffer of these disorders in any one year.

The research found that each year the following percentage of the population would BEGIN to suffer one of these diseases.

  • alcohol dependence 1.7% or one in every 59 people will begin to be alcoholic,
  • alcohol abuse 1.0% or one in every 100 people will begin to abuse alcohol,
  • major depressive disorder 1.5% or one in every 67 people will begin to be depressed,
  • generalized anxiety disorder 1.12% or one in every 89 people will begin to be anxious,
  • panic disorder 0.62% or one in every 161 people will begin to suffer panic symptoms,
  • bipolar disorder 0.53% or one in every 188 people will begin to suffer from bipolar symptoms,
  • phobia 0.44% or one in every 227 people will begin to be phobic,
  • social phobia 0.32% or one in every 313 people will begin to have social fear,
  • drug abuse 0.28% or one in every 357 people will begin to abuse drugs,
  • drug dependence 0.32% or one in every 313 people will begin to be addictive,

These rates are comparable to other common medical diseases such as;

  • lung cancer 0.06% or one in every 1,667 people will begin to get cancer,
  • stroke 0.45% or one in every 222 people will begin to suffer stroke symptoms,
  • cardiovascular disease 1.5% or one in every 66 people will begin to suffer heart problems.

The study found that men were at greater risk of first onset alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence and drug dependence, and new disease experiences were greatest among 20- to 29-year-olds and individuals who had been separated / divorced / widowed or never married.

By contrast, the risk of most anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder, was greatest among women, and all anxiety disorder incidence rates were greater in the youngest age groups (20 to 54 year olds).

Among mood disorders examined in this study, the risk of first onset of major depressive disorder (MDD) was greatest among women.

“Information on psychiatric risk factors identified in this study can begin to inform a new class of preventive interventions aimed at preventing a second disorder or set of disorders,” said Bridget Grant. “As to clinical implications, this study helps to clarify the risk of future disorders posed by chronologically primary disorders, information that may be used to improve treatment planning and counsel patients at risk of developing secondary disorders.”

Research report; Grant, B. Molecular Psychiatry, April 22, 2008. News release, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Sociodemographic and Psychopathologic Predictors of First Incidence of DSM-IV Substance Use, Mood, and Anxiety Disorders: Results from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Note; These rates are specific to the United States, other countries may have differing rates. However, developed countries with similar socio-demographics may have similar rates.

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Women Drinkers ‘Face Cancer Risk’

Breast cancer 2 Women 50% more likely to develop breast cancer.

Women who drink above the government’s recommended limit are 50% more likely to develop breast cancer, the Department of Health has said.

A £10m advertising campaign has been launched targeting middle-aged women who might underestimate their drinking.

A British health department report, which has yet to be published, says women who drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week are at increased risk.

Cancer Research says alcohol causes about 2,000 breast cancer cases a year.

Full story at BBC, Britain

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