Despite many studies indicating that moderate alcohol consumption could lead to health benefits, particularly the consumption of red wine, a new study found that alcohol leads to 1 in 30 cancer deaths, or around 20,000 deaths.
The study also found that fifteen percent of breast cancer deaths are linked to alcohol consumption.
“As expected, people who are higher alcohol users were at higher risk, but there was really no safe level of alcohol use,” said author Dr. David Nelson, who is director of the US National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Prevention Fellowship program.
What is even more frightening about the study is that the alcohol consumption leading to deaths is not substantial, as 30 percent of cancer deaths linked to alcohol resulted from 1.5 drinks or less daily.
This comes in contrast to studies that found moderate alcohol consumption to be beneficial. A recent study found that a chemical component of beer, hops, could help fight some viruses. Another study found that those who consume alcohol after their first heart attack lower their risk of death from heart disease.
The study on heart disease found that drinking two alcoholic drinks a day over a long period of time resulted in heart attack survivors lowering their risk of dying from the disease by 42%, compared to those who did not drink.
They also found that their risk of death from any cause was reduced by 14%.
Researchers believe that drinking helps protect the heart and arteries when it is kept to a moderate amount.
But Nelson warns that “alcohol causes 10 times as many deaths as it prevents.”
Though doctors have trouble discerning why alcohol is linked to cancer, some studies suggest it can cause damage to body tissues, help other damaging chemicals harm cells, and prevent some nutrient absorption along with affecting estrogen and body weight.