A new study from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), published in the journal Lancet Oncology, has found an association between alcohol and a substantially higher risk of several forms of cancer, including breast, colon, and oral cancers.
The researchers also found that increased risk was evident even among light to moderate drinkers (up to two drinks a day), who represented 1 in 7 of all new cancers in 2020 and more than 100,000 cases worldwide. The researchers said that the modelling study was based on data on alcohol exposure from almost all countries of the world, both surveys and sales figures, which were combined with the latest relative risk estimates for cancer, based on level of consumption.
Dr Jürgen Rehm, Senior Scientist and study co-author, said that all levels of consumption are associated with some risk concerning alcohol-related cancers. “ For example, each standard-sized glass of wine per day is associated with a 6 per cent higher risk for developing female breast cancer.”
Dr Leslie Buckley, CAMH Chief of Addictions, highlighted the issue of increased alcohol use since the onset of the pandemic. She inferred that this may be related to temporary stressors, however, she said, there is a potential for new habits to become more permanent. “The consequences with alcohol use are often subtle harms initially that take time to show themselves, while long-term consequences such as cancer, liver disease and substance use disorder can be devastating”.