Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to increased risk of several cancers (colorectum, breast, oral , pharynx, larynx, liver, and esophagus). But what about moderate or minimal drinking? The Mediterranean diet and other studies looking at longevity have long viewed a glass of wine a day as beneficial. However, this large study found that even light to moderate drinking is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women, and there is an increased risk of alcohol related cancers only among male smokers. From Science Daily:
Even light and moderate drinking (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) is associated with an increased risk of certain alcohol related cancers in women and male smokers, suggests a large study. Overall, light to moderate drinking was associated with minimally increased risk of total cancer in both men and women.
However, among women, light to moderate drinking (up to one drink per day) was associated with an increased risk of alcohol related cancer, mainly breast cancer. Risk of alcohol related cancers was also higher among light and moderate drinking men (up to two drinks per day), but only in those who had ever smoked. No association was found in men who had never smoked.
They used data from two large US studies that tracked the health of 88,084 women and 47,881 men for up to 30 years. They assessed risk of total cancer as well as known alcohol related cancers including cancer of the the colorectum, female breast, liver, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.
Light to moderate drinking was defined as up to one standard drink or 15 g alcohol per day for women and up to two standard drinks or 30 g alcohol per day for men. One standard drink is roughly equivalent to a small (118 ml) glass of wine or a 355 ml bottle of beer....During the follow-up period, a total of 19,269 and 7,571 cancers were diagnosed in women and men, respectively. The researchers found that overall, light to moderate drinking was associated with a small but non-significant increased risk of total cancer in both men and women, regardless of smoking history.