Moderate drinking increases cancer risk
People who engage in light or moderate drinking every day are at an increased risk of cancer, a study has found.
Research carried out in the US and published by the British Medical Journal only found the link in men who had smoked at some point in their lives, and not in those who had never.
But even in women who had never smoked, the risk of alcohol-related cancers increased even after one drink a day.
An editorial said people with a family history of cancer, particularly women with a family history of breast cancer, should consider reducing their alcohol intake.
Because smoking is a major risk factor for most alcohol- related cancers - apart from female breast cancer - the apparent influence of alcohol on the disease could be partly driven by its effect among smokers.
Light or moderate drinking was classed as less than 15g (around one-and-a-half units or just under two drinks) a day in women and 30g (three units or three or four drinks) and below in men.
Other findings were that abstainers or heavy drinkers were less likely than light and moderate drinkers to have had regular check-ups by their GP or been screened for colorectal, prostate or breast cancer. Heavy drinkers were more likely to be long-term smokers.
The study, which was led by Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said it is estimated that alcohol consumption has caused 3.6pc of all cancers worldwide, 1.7pc in women and 5.2pc in men.