Participants in that study were men between the ages of 35 and 70 who had been diagnosed with any of 20 cancers. Collected data included ethnicity, income, smoking history, diet and occupational exposures, as well as alcohol consumption patterns.
For the new study, the researchers focused on nearly 3,600 people for whom they had data on alcohol use as well as their cancer history. Types of cancer represented were bladder, colon, esophageal, kidney, liver, lung, Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic, prostate, rectal and stomach.
Among men considered "regular drinkers," defined as drinking on a daily or weekly basis, alcohol was linked to an increased risk for nearly half of the cancer types -- specifically, esophageal, stomach, colon, liver, lung and prostate cancer.
And the more alcohol that such regular drinkers consumed, the higher their risk rose relative to those who did not drink at all or drank infrequently, the study reported.
Although Benedetti noted that "wine consumption was not an issue," she also acknowledged that the researchers "weren't able to look at the impact of wine as much as we wanted to because we didn't have enough information available."
"And I wouldn't want to say that heavy wine drinking, for example, is OK," she cautioned. "But it appears from what we found that light and moderate drinking of wine is not linked to an increased risk for cancer, while light and moderate consumption of beer and spirits does have some risk attached to it."
However, William J. Blot, associate director of research at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn., questioned the impact that the study might have.
"This study looked at data that is actually 25 years old," Blot said. "And it's
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