Oncologists recommend limiting Alcohol consumption

Not only does excessive alcohol consumption cause cancer, but it also can delay or negatively impact cancer treatment.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology is calling for reduced alcohol consumption given that cancer risk rises with increasing use. Even light drinking is associated with increased risk for some cancers.

The statement includes a table that could be used to counsel patients. For instance, “moderate” drinking is associated with cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, larynx, breast, and colorectum.

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A barman pulls a pint of beer in a pub in Liverpool northern England

Among the other recommendations in the statement, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology:

  • Clinicians should screen for alcohol use and provide brief interventions.
  • Strategies to control alcohol use should be part of a cancer care plan.
  • Prices and taxes on alcohol should be increased.
  • Alcohol companies should not engage in pink-washing — a practice in which companies use pink ribbons or the color pink to raise awareness for breast cancer — given alcohol’s role in breast cancer risk.

“People typically don’t associate drinking beer, wine, and hard liquor with increasing their risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes,” said ASCO President Bruce Johnson, MD, FASCO.

“However, the link between increased alcohol consumption and cancer has been firmly established and gives the medical community guidance on how to help their patients reduce their risk of cancer.”

Not only does excessive alcohol consumption cause cancer, but it also can delay or negatively impact cancer treatment. Oncologists are uniquely positioned to identify strategies to help their patients reduce their alcohol use; address racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation disparities that may place these populations at increased cancer risk; and serve as community advisors and leaders to raise the awareness of alcohol as a cancer risk behavior.

 

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