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The American Society of Clinical Oncology is the latest organization to warn that alcohol consumption causes cancer.

The group’s announcement this week puts them with groups in Europe, Australia and elsewhere that have drawn the link through a growing number of studies.

Though the added risks are small, they add up among a large population, the group writes in their Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“The more that a person drinks, and the longer the period of time, the greater their risk of development of cancer, especially head and neck cancers,” the ASCO writes in its review of the evidence. “Alcohol is a cause of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colorectum, liver and female breast,” they contend, in citing a branch of the World Health Organization.

The organization references more than 150 previous papers, including other meta-analyses of research. Among the findings, pulled from other studies:

  • An estimated 5.5 percent of all new cancers in 2012 worldwide were estimated to be attributable to alcohol. Overall, 5.8 percent of the cancer deaths that same year could be blamed on drinking, they write.
  • The summary relative risks for heavy drinkers (as compared with non-drinkers) span from 1.44 for colorectal cancer to 5.13 for oral and pharynx cancers. In between were breast cancer (1.610), liver (2.07), larynx (2.65), and esophagus (4.95).
  • For each extra 10 grams of daily alcohol intake, the risk of secondary malignancies in patients with upper aerodigestive tract cancers increases 9 percent, they cite. “Clearly, the greatest cancer risks are concentrated in the heavy and moderate drinkers categories,” they write. “Nevertheless, some cancer risk persists even at low levels of consumption.”
  • Oxidative stress causes by alcohol can result in chronic tissue inflammation, possibly linking tumor growth to drinking. A possible pathway is that acetaldehyde, a byproduct of the body breaking down ethanol, can be both carcinogenic and mutagenic, since it binds to be both DNA and proteins alike.
  • Another meta-analysis of nearly 210,000 cancer survivors showed an 8 percent increase in overall mortality, and a 17 percent increased recurrence risk for the heaviest drinkers as opposed to the lightest drinkers, the study authors write.

ASCO writes that public health strategies, including public awareness, enforcement of laws and curtailing access to alcohol will result in better cancer, and cancer survival, rates.

Early last year, the U.K. Department of Health took a hard stance, saying any amount of alcohol increases the risk of cancers. Just months before that, a Harvard University team found that even a single drink a day increases the risk of cancer in women, especially that of the breast.

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