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Posted: Saturday, May 10 2008. 10:44

Moderate Drinking May Still Cause Cancer

The new Australian finding that even drinking moderate amounts of alcohol daily can significantly increase the risks of developing certain cancers such as breast, bowel, throat and mouth, will warm the cockles of Union Home Minister Ramadoss's heart.

The Cancer Institute of New South Wales has come out with a study released yesterday claiming that alcohol in moderation can still cause cancer with two standard glasses of alcohol a day increasing the risk of mouth cancer by 75% for both men and women.

The institute published its findings on Thursday, in a report titled Alcohol as a Cause of Cancer. The report reviewed 600 pieces of international research and conducted an international audit of cancer and alcohol research. It was instituted to try to find the cause of increasing level of cancer in society.

The study does not make any distinction between wine and other alcohols like beer or spirits.

Jim Bishop, Chief of the Institute concedes that "The risk is quite low at low levels of alcohol intake, but as the alcohol goes up on average per day the risk will increase," he said.' Although red wine is helpful for cardiac disease, there is no benefit of alcohol when it comes to cancer,' he added. 'The evidence now for cancer was that there was no known lower limit when it came to drinking.'

Mr. Bishop said about a third of all cancers were preventable and cutting down on alcohol must be part of any cancer-prevention strategy. He said the risks of cancer were very high in the community -- one in two men and one in three women.

"The risk is not huge- it's around 10 to 20 per cent per average drink - but if you have two average drinks a day every day of your life then that's the increased risk you're running," said Bishop.

NSW Assistant Health Minister Verity Firth, who released the report on Thursday, said the alarming links to cancer had been generally ignored in debate over alcohol consumption.

"In fact, alcohol consumption is a significant risk factor for a number of cancers, including those of the breast, bowel, throat and mouth," Ms Firth said.

Ms Firth added that the World Health Organisation now lists alcohol as a top-rated group 1 carcinogen.

The 2006 New South Wales Population Health Survey had found 70 per cent of NSW adults drank alcohol, with 17.6 per cent drinking at risky levels.

'We cannot police every person's drinking habits. But we want to make sure people have the information they need to make healthy choices about alcohol use for themselves,' said Ms. Firth

Here are some of the other findings:

Two standard drinks per day increases their risk of women developing breast cancer by up to 22 %.

Four alcoholic drinks per day increases a man's risk of developing bowel cancer by 64 %

The report also found 12% of all breast cancer cases in NSW could be directly linked to excessive consumption of alcohol.

The National Health and Medical Research Council will release updated guidelines on safe alcohol consumption in June. It's expected that there'll be a reduction in the number of standard drinks recommended for men and women. The new recommendation is expected to bring down the safe drinking levels down to two drinks a day for both men and women.

The Department of Health's current advice is that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol per day, and women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day.

The Mouth Cancer Foundation is now calling for a reduction in the current daily alcohol intake safety guidelines. Founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, Dr Vinod Joshi says: 'In view of this latest report the current alcohol guidelines that we've got are actually very high.

'To reduce the risk of mouth cancer, the Mouth Cancer Foundation recommends that people should limit or avoid alcohol altogether.'

For men, the Mouth Cancer Foundation recommends no more than two standard drinks a day and for women no more than one standard drink a day.

The evidence about alcohol and the link to cancer is growing and people should be more aware of the risks and reduce their alcohol consumption.

Whatever be the prejudices or limitations of the parameters chosen to come to this conclusion, reports like these will help educate people in the anti-alcohol lobby. Rather than trying to coerce the states and the film industry into banning alcohol, people like Mr. A. Ramadoss, the Health Minister of India should publicise the report extensively to promote anti-alcoholism.

The study appears to have concentrated on those drinking 3-4 plus glasses of alcohol daily, with no specific focus on wine drinkers. It has already been well documented in almost all the studies that more than two drinks are harmful not only from the point of view of cancer but also blood pressure, liver, etc.

It does not seem to have taken into account several studies in the recent past that concluded that wine was beneficial for cancer, up to two standard drinks a day, except for women. While the study suggests caution, Indian Wine Academy has always recommended a moderate, two glasses of wine daily and we continue to do so-editor

Comments:  
Posted By : Dr Vinod K Joshi
May 13, 2008 12:51
The research is based on data from an international audit of recent cancer research. Alcohol is a carcinogen and known to increase the risk of several cancers. The research shows that even drinking moderate levels of alcohol on a regular basis can increase the risk. As cancer is concerned no benefit is derived from alcohol. The Cancer Institute says that the health benefits of alcohol consumption may have overestimated and most evidence suggests that one drink every two days may be cardioprotective, but only in men over 45 years of age and women after menopause. They say there is no evidence to support the theory that people should take up or maintain drinking alcohol for their health. The report found in fact there is no safe level of alcohol and alcohol consumption should be kept to an absolute minimum. Dr Vinod K Joshi Mouth Cancer Foundation
   
       

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