According to a new review of research conducted by Professor Jennie Connor of the University of Otago in New Zealand, alcohol consumption even in low quntities, increases the risk for seven types of cancer.
The review, published in the journal Addiction, supports an association between alcohol consumption and cancers located in the oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and female breast.
"Epidemiological and biological research on alcohol and cancer was reviewed and summarized," Connor wrote about her methods for the review. Her paper draws on an analysis conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The review finds a causal link between alcohol and cancer, which is stronger than "the long-recognized association" between drinking and cancer, Connor says in a report about the study on The University of Otago's website says. "An association means there is a relationship of some kind between the two variables.
"A causal association means there is evidence that alcohol consumption directly causes cancer," she wrote.
Connor’s review makes reference to evidence that alcohol caused roughly half a million deaths from cancer in 2012, and as many as 5.8 per cent of cancer deaths worldwide. Heavier drinking leads to a greater risk, Connor writes, but a threat still exists for drinkers who consume even a moderate to low amount of alcohol.
The findings also cast doubt on previous theories that moderate drinking protects against cardiovascular disease, suggesting that the correlation is not strong.
Her review urges people to take the dangers of drinking seriously and to and avoid what she calls "misinformation" about alcohol's link to cancer.
"Some confusion and skepticism about whether alcohol causes cancer may seem understandable, but in some cases doubt is also being generated by dissemination of misinformation, which undermines research findings and contradicts evidence-based public health messages," the review says.