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Are drinking guidelines adequate regarding the risk of cancer?
Date:7/19/2011

er people much more than younger. The cardiovascular protection and other possible benefits of low, regular doses of alcohol (less dementia, late onset diabetes etc) are most likely to be visible in older age groups, a time when much research suggests alcohol's positive effects outweigh its negative effects.

Threshold effects: The paper quotes the 2007 review from World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research cited in the conclusion: "No threshold for risk-free consumption was identified." is misquoted as, thresholds were identified in that document (and in many others), such as an increased risk of colorectal cancer being apparent above a threshold of 30 g/day of ethanol for both sexes, and cirrhosis is an essential precursor of liver cancer caused by alcohol.

Importance of smoking and diet on the association of alcohol with cancer: The paper fails to point out the importance of associated smoking in the risk of upper aero-digestive cancers; in the absence of tobacco smoking there seems to be little or no effect of moderate alcohol consumption on the risk of such cancers. For example, in the Million Women Study, increasing alcohol intake was strongly associated with an increased risk of cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract among current smokers, but was not associated with an increased risk in never smokers or past smokers.

Reasons why people consume alcohol: The authors of the report seem to believe that including categories for sensible or low-risk drinking in guidelines leads people to start drinking alcohol. Humans have consumed various types of alcoholic beverages since long before recorded history. The reasons why some people consume such beverages and others do not are strongly related to cultural norms. It is unlikely that a particular set of guidelines for a country plays a major role in the initiation of consumption, although it may be of some help in reducing consumption in individuals who drink
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Contact: R Curtis Ellison
ellison@bu.edu
508-333-1256
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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