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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Too much alcohol raises cancer risk

12th April 2011

Drinking alcohol seems to raise people's likelihood of getting certain types of cancer, according to a recent German-led pan-European study.


The researchers focused on people from France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, as well as other countries in the EU.

About 10% of all cancers in men seemed to be linked to alcohol.

Lead researcher Madlen Schutze, of the German Institute of Human Nutrition, said her team's findings showed that many cancer cases depended upon alcohol consumption.

She said that more cancer cases could be avoided if people reduced their alcohol intake and either stopped drinking entirely or drank no more than the recommended amount.

The researchers also found that certain cancers seemed more tied to alcohol intake than others.

For instance, in men, 44% of cancers of the mouth, throat and oesophagus seemed to be linked to alcohol intake.

A further 33% of cases of liver cancer in men, as well as 18% of all liver cancer cases in women, seemed to be statistically tied to alcohol drinking.

There was also a strong statistical link between colorectal cancer and alcohol use in both men and women.

For the study, the researchers followed 364,000 people in eight European countries.

The researchers found that people's overall cancer risk increased measurably with every extra unit of alcohol consumed, where regular drinking habits were concerned.

Germany, Denmark, and Britain led the pack in terms of excessive alcohol consumption.

Almost 44% of German men drank more than the recommended daily limit, followed by Denmark at 43.6% and Britain at 41.1%.

The proportions were only slightly different where women were concerned, with Britain placing second and Denmark placing third.

While the finding may come as a surprise to some people, alcohol is broken down by the body into volatile chemicals which damage DNA.

Anything that can damage the DNA of individual cells in the body can also increase people's chance of developing cancer.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians and chairman of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance, said he believed the recent study was yet another piece of evidence to strengthen the argument for tougher alcohol regulation by the government.

Two years ago, the Million Women Study also found a link between female cancer and alcohol consumption.

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