Doctors at the American Society of Clinical Oncology have linked both light and heavy drinking to a number of cancers, including breast, esophagus, liver, larynx, colon, head and neck.
Yet few adults, when asked, identify alcohol consumption as a risk factor for cancer, even though the vast majority were familiar with other cancer risk factors, like smoking and sun exposure, a recent ASCO survey of 4,016 adults found.
A large organization of cancer doctors has issued a call to action to minimize alcohol consumption.
"We made a decision to push this out because.we were looking over our portfolio of various statements on primary prevention of cancer and we realized that we did not have a statement on alcohol", Noelle LoConte, a representative of ASCO, told International Business Times Tuesday. Ashton adds that if you pour more than these standard serving sizes, it counts for more than one drink. McTiernan is also on the advisory panel that oversees the work of the World Cancer Research Fund.
"And with colon cancer, alcohol seems to interfere with the way folate is absorbed, which is a known precursor in the path to developing cancer in the colon".
Seventy percent of Americans surveyed in this year's National Cancer Opinion Survey were unaware that alcohol is a well-established and modifiable risk factor for cancer, the authors noted.
The CDC recommends that women have no more than one drink a day or eight drinks a week.
The ASCO report goes on to pinpoint just how many of these fatal cancers are linked to drinking alcohol. "And if you don't drink, don't start, '" Noelle LoConte, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lead author of the ASCO statement, told the New York Times.
Those that are heavy drinkers face far higher risks of throat and mouth cancer, voice box cancer, liver cancer and to some extent, the colorectal cancers, cautioned the group.
Even those who drink moderately, defined by the Centers for Disease Control as one daily drink for women and two for men, face almost a doubling of the risk for mouth and throat cancer and more than double the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus, compared to nondrinkers.
"That puts some weight behind this", she said.