Light drinking increases cancer risks

9 Oct

Dr. Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine alerts us to a recent meta-analysis of research on the health effects of drinking published in the Annals of Oncology.

There is good reason to doubt the widely repeated claim that moderate drinking has health benefits. According to the meta-analysis:

“Light drinking increases the risk of cancer of oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus and female breast.”

Dr. Mirkin points out:

“For many years the wine, beer and alcoholic beverage industries have promoted studies showing that alcohol is healthful. However, researchers at the University of Victoria in British Columbia reviewed 54 studies and found that only seven of those studies corrected their non-drinking population for people who had been told to stop drinking for health reasons (Addiction Research and Theory, April 2006).

When researchers perform an epidemiological study to see if alcohol prevents disease, they compare people who drink with those who do not drink. However, many people do not drink because their doctors have told them they have liver, heart or kidney disease, high blood pressure, alcoholism, stomach ulcers, or other major health problems. The Canadian researchers re-analyzed 47 studies that associated wine or other alcohol with a longer life and decreased risk for heart attacks. When the studies were corrected to remove the people who had been ordered to stop drinking for health reasons, they found no difference in death rate between moderate drinkers and those who do not drink at all. Always be skeptical of studies that say alcohol prolongs life.”

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