New study links drinking to increased cancer risk

| 30 Aug 2022

According to a new study conducted in South Korea and published recently in JAMA Network Open, people who increased their alcohol consumption also increased their cancer risks when compared to a control group that made zero changes to their drinking habits.

The link between the two included alcohol related cancers, of course, but the risk of developing all types of cancer was also higher as a result.  Furthermore, the risk went up in the case of non-drinkers who gave up their sobriety and started habitually drinking, whether mildly, moderately or heavily. 

Chief scientific officer from the American Cancer Society, Dr William Dahut, shared via CNN that “This is another good example of how changing behaviour can significantly decrease cancer deaths. The most striking finding is the impact on cancer-deaths with changes in alcohol consumption. People should be strongly counseled that they can decrease their cancer risk dramatically if alcohol consumption is moderated.”

The study was really big, looking into data from over 4.5 million participants so it is safe to say the results are quite conclusive. 

The participants, who used the Korean National Health Insurance Service, were all over the age of 40 and they took part in a nationwide health screening in 2009 and then in 2011. 

Authors of the study, from the Seoul National University Hospital, explained that “In this large study that used repeated measures of alcohol consumption, we learned that people who increased their alcohol consumption, no matter their baseline drinking level, had an increased incidence of alcohol related and all cancers compared with those who kept their current level of drinking. Quitting was not associated with a lower incidence of alcohol-related cancer, but if abstinence was maintained over time, the incidence of alcohol-related and all cancers tended to decrease.” 

Those who were non-drinkers and started consuming alcohol increased their risk of developing liver, stomach, lung and gallbladder cancers as well as leukemia and multiple myeloma. 

The researchers also found a clear link between decreasing alcohol consumption and lowering the risk of all types of cancer. 

The CDC and ACS also point out that alcohol consumption is most likely responsible for increasing the risk of no less than six types of cancer in particular – larynx, mouth and throat, colon and rectum, breast and liver, according to Health Thoroughfare.