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Low Alcohol Consumption Can Increase the Risk of Cancer

By Lisa Schulmeister, RN, MN, APRN-BC, FAAN
Heavy, long-term alcohol consumption is known to be one of the many risk factors associated with developing cancer. But, does having 1 alcoholic drink a day increase your chances of developing the disease, too?

The Cancer Prevention Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently published a special article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on alcohol consumption and cancer risk.

The article reflects ASCO’s position that while the greatest risks of developing various cancers are associated with heavy, long-term alcohol consumption, even low alcohol consumption (defined as less than 1 drink per day) or moderate consumption (up to 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women) can increase the risk of cancer.

How alcohol affects disease treatment outcomes is unknown. ASCO plans to include research on consuming alcohol during cancer treatment in its research agenda.

In addition, ASCO plans to provide leadership in the cancer community on this issue, including public education on the risks between alcohol abuse and certain types of cancer, as well as the need for evidence-based strategies that prevent excessive consumption of alcohol.

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