Even when consumed in moderation, alcohol is a "definite risk factor" for cancer, according to a special report by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"We're not saying no one should ever drink at all - we're just saying if you do drink, even trying to keep it down to less than one drink a day would be a smart choice", Alice Bender, a registered dietitian who is the head of nutrition programs for the AICR, told Business Insider in May. Alcohol consumption can also "delay or negatively impact cancer treatment", the authors noted.
"If you don't drink, don't start", says Dr LoConte, and "if you do drink try to stay under the recommendations of 1 or less per day for women and 2 or less per day for men". Indeed, a recent survey from the organization found that 70 percent of Americans didn't know that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for cancer. The statement cited an increase in the risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx and the liver, with a slightly lower increased risk for colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Ashton adds that if you pour more than these standard serving sizes, it counts for more than one drink.
"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.
"We are seeing some very alarming trends in alcohol overconsumption, especially among women", Dr. Ali Mokdad, the author of a separate alcohol usage study, said in a 2015 news release. The ASCO defines heavy drinking as "eight or more drinks per week or three or more drinks per day for women, and as many as fifteen or more drinks per week or four or more drinks per day for men".
"The message is not, 'Don't drink.' It's, 'If you want to reduce your cancer risk, drink less".
"With alcohol we are not saying don't drink ever".
ABC News' chief medical correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, said that alcohol has been a known human carcinogen, or known to cause cancer, for a long time within the medical community.
Ashton said alcohol consumption has been shown to be a causative factor in a wide range of cancers, including cancer of the head and neck, esophagus, breast and colon.