"Alcohol use-whether light, moderate, or heavy-is linked with increasing the risk of several leading cancers, including those of the breast, colon, esophagus, and head and neck", said the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in a statement Wednesday.
It's estimated that, worldwide, about 5 percent of new cancers and 6 percent of cancer deaths each year are directly attributable to alcohol consumption, the ASCO statement said.
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.
As of 2013, about 73 per cent of Americans reported consuming alcohol, and almost 13 per cent described their consumption habits as binge drinking, according to a survey published in JAMA Psychiatry in August. The study's authors said their findings indicated "a public health crisis", especially with the increase in problem drinking among its more than 43,000 participants.
"We chose to push this out because.we were looking over our portfolio of various statements on primary prevention of cancer and we realized that we did not have a statement on alcohol", Noelle LoConte, a representative of ASCO, told International Business Times Tuesday.
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"It's good to look at where you are with diet and physical activity and look at places where you might improve and just start every day to take some simple steps to decrease your risk and improve your health", Bender said. The connection between rising alcohol intake and cancer has been substantially confirmed.
With liver cancer, alcohol leads to cirrhosis and cirrhosis, in turn, leads to cancer, but it's not always such a clear chain reaction.
Alcohol is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Cancer Research.
Dr. Anne McTiernan, a scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who was an author of one of the earlier reports on alcohol and breast cancer, said she was pleased that oncologists were focusing on alcohol.
It "shows they're serious about it and willing to put their name on the line for changes in policy, and willing to say that even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risks of some cancers to a small degree".