Alcohol has been linked to breast, colon, liver and other types of cancer in a new analysis that suggests alcohol packaging should include warning labels about health risks from drinking too much. In all, the study published in the scientific journal Addiction found alcohol causes seven forms of cancer and even people who don't drink regularly are at risk.
The health experts behind the study urged government officials to educate the public about the link between alcohol and cancer. It concluded that regular drinkers should abstain from alcohol at least a few times a week, if not more often.
"There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others," Jennie Connor, a researcher with the preventive and social medicine department at Otago University in New Zealand who conducted the study, told the Guardian. "Even without complete knowledge of biological mechanisms [of how alcohol causes cancer], the epidemiological evidence can support the judgment that alcohol causes cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast."
The study found alcohol was behind 5.8 percent of cancer deaths in 2012, or around 500,000 people. Connor arrived at her conclusions by studying reviews from the World Cancer Research Fund, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer body, and other authoritative bodies.
"The highest risks are associated with the heaviest drinking but a considerable burden is experienced by drinkers with low to moderate consumption, due to the distribution of drinking in the population," Connor said.
There are more than 100 types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common kinds of cancer in the United States are breast, liver, skin, lung and bladder cancer. In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. About 600,000 people die from the disease each year.