The American Society of Clinical Oncology, an association that represents many of the top cancer doctors in the country, is bringing to the attention of medical world the links between cancer and alcohol.
In a Tuesday statement, the group cited evidence that light drinking can even slightly increase the risk of breast cancer and increase the risk of a common esophageal cancer.
Those that are heavy drinkers face far higher risks of throat and mouth cancer, voice box cancer, liver cancer and to some extent, the colorectal cancers, cautioned the group.
Other medical groups cited risks of alcohol as possibly being related to causing cancer, but it is the first time this stand has been taken by ASCO.
Drinking in general, as well as problem drinking and heavy drinking, are increasing in the U.S. and affect every segment of society, including older adults, women, ethnic and racial minorities, as well as the poor.
Yet not many adults, when questioned, identify the consumption of alcohol as a cancer risk factor, even though most were familiar with other risk factors for cancer, such as smoking and exposure to the sun, found a recent survey by ASCO of over 4,016 adults.
Less than one out of three adults said alcohol was a cancer risk factor, but most also did not mention obesity as being a risk factor.
The group representing doctors has also called for new initiatives in public health to curb the use of alcohol from restrictions on ads that target minors to taxes. One such is a ban on advertising alcohol in the buses and subways of New York City that begins as of January 2018.
The group also opposes what is known as “pink washing” where alcohol companies use a pink ribbon on products they sell to enhance their sales. They oppose it given the evidence that shows there exists a link between the consumption of alcohol and a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
For its research, ASCO reviewed earlier studied and made the conclusion that 5.5% of all of the new cancers as well as 5.8% of cancer deaths around the world could be attributed to alcohol.
In addition, the paper clearly stated that alcohol has a casual role in cancers such as voice box, neck and throat, colon and liver, as well as breast cancer and esophageal cancer.