A new study conducted by Japanese researchers has found that even mild to moderate alcohol consumption could increase the risk of cancer, suggesting that even light drinking for a longer duration could affect our health.
The study published Monday in the journal Cancer looked at data from a long research project that has been tracking the health of patients in Japan, especially those who were hospitalized.
Apart from collecting their medical history, the researchers asked the volunteers about their drinking habits, including how much and long they had been drinking alcohol altogether.
The researchers found mild to moderate alcohol drinkers had an increased cancer risk than those who never had alcohol. For instance, those who drank a standard drink on a daily basis were five percent more likely to be at the risk of developing cancer.
Previous studies have found that alcohol is associated with an increased risk of breast, liver, head and neck cancer. However, the researchers of the current study said theirs is the first research conducted on people living in Japan.
The authors wrote, “In Japan, even light to moderate alcohol consumption appears to be associated with elevated cancer risks.”
In general, just five percent of cancer risk due to mild alcohol intake is not significant, noted the researchers. They explained that factors such as smoking and hepatitis (B and C) carry more cancer risk than light drinking.
They also explained that their findings might not be applicable to other people across the world because most Japanese people carry a genetic predisposition that makes it difficult to break down alcohol.
However, the study had a few limitations and it did not prove the exact connection between light drinking and increased cancer risk.
The researchers noted that this is the latest study showing that mild or moderate alcohol intake is not necessarily harmless.
Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol can improve your heart health, while others have pointed out the risks of even mild drinking.
Also, it is more likely that most people are not aware of the association between alcohol and cancer risk in the first place, For instance, one UK study earlier this year found that only 20 percent of women, who get screened or treated for breast cancer, knew that alcohol intake is linked to increased breast cancer risk. While nobody is stopping you from having a drink or two this Christmas, it is relatively safe to say that you are not directly at the risk of developing cancer right away. Remember that moderate is the key.