Tags: light | drink | health | benefit

Benefits Outweigh Risks of Light Drinking

Monday, 24 September 2012 01:28 PM

Light drinkers, who consume as little as one drink a day, may marginally increase their odds of developing certain cancers, but those risks are slight and likely outweighed by the benefits of alcohol consumption – including a longer lifespan and significant protection against more common life-threatening conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.
That’s the conclusion of a new analysis of health studies involving light drinking that medical experts said should not be used as a basis for warning against light drinking for most people.
The meta analysis, published in the Annals of Oncology, noted a majority of observational studies have shown that alcohol intake, especially heavy drinking, increases a number of digestive tract and other cancers, and even moderate drinking is associated with a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer in some women.
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But the review also found while light drinkers have a higher risk of developing some cancers – including those involving the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus and female breast – the risk of these cancers is “only slightly increased from such drinking,” compared to non-drinkers.
What’s more, the analysis showed drinking did not increase the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, liver, and larynx and contained a variety of limitations (including the fact that many studies did not take into account other lifestyle factors that may account for the increased risk, such as smoking, binge drinking, and other unhealthy behaviors).
An expert panel that reviewed the analysis, published with the study’s findings, also noted: “Despite the acknowledged limitations of their data, the authors present conclusions indicating that even light drinking increases the risk of certain cancers … but do not comment on the overall or net health effects of light drinking: a marked reduction in the risk of much more common diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, and a longer lifespan.”
The panel – including health experts from Boston University School of Medicine,Stellenbosch University South Africa, the University of California, Davis, and elsewhere – added: “While their analyses may be helpful in understanding associations between alcohol and cancer, the many limitations of this study indicate that it can provide only incomplete information on light alcohol consumption to be used as a basis for making recommendations to the public.”
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The health and longevity benefits of light drinking outweigh the slight risks alcohol may pose, new research shows.
Monday, 24 September 2012 01:28 PM
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