Study identifies connection between alcohol consumption and certain forms of cancer


Published July 14, 2021 at 7:37 pm


With so much doom and despair constantly in the news during the last 16 months, many have turned to substances to help take the edge off.

However, while this may provide peace of mind, it could also come with less than ideal side effects, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A recent study from the WHO has found a link between alcohol consumption and increased risk of certain forms of cancer, including breast, colon, and oral cancers.

According to the findings, in Canada, alcohol use was linked to 7,000 new diagnoses of cancer in 2020, including 24 per cent of breast cancer cases, 20 per cent of colon cancers, 15 per cent of rectal cancers, and 13 per cent of oral and liver cancers.

“All drinking involves risk,” Jürgen Rehm, senior scientist with the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and co-author of the study, said in a news release.

“And with alcohol-related cancers, all levels of consumption are associated with some risk. For example, each standard-sized glass of wine per day is associated with a 6 per cent higher risk for developing female breast cancer,” Rehm continued.

Additionally, these cases weren’t exclusive to heavy drinkers—they were also linked to light to moderate drinkers.

Those who consume up to two drinks per day represented 14 per cent of new cancer diagnoses in 2020.

“Alcohol causes cancer in numerous ways,” Kevin Shield, an independent scientist with the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, and co-author of the study, said in the same release.

“The main mechanism of how alcohol causes cancer is through impairing DNA repair. Additional pathways include chronic alcohol consumption resulting in liver cirrhosis, and alcohol leading to a dysregulation of sex hormones, leading to breast cancer. Alcohol also increases the risk of head and neck cancer for smokers as it increases the absorption of carcinogens from tobacco,” he continued.

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