Like many people, I enjoy a glass of white wine or a couple of beers with friends. Though I certainly have my crazy nights (there were quite a few of those in college, to say the least), I generally think that my drinking isn’t an issue these days, particularly with regard to my health. Naturally — and unsurprisingly, to many of you — I was wrong: as it would turn out, less than a couple of drinks per day can actually raise your risk of cancer considerably.
A full 15 percent of breast cancer deaths are attributed to alcohol consumption, according to research from the Boston University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health, which are now published in the American Journal of Public Health. The team of researchers also found that 3.5 percent of overall cancer deaths are considered to be caused by drinking.
Professor Mark Bellis, director of the centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, told the Daily Telegraph that thousands and thousands of deaths from cancer each year can be attributed to alcohol, and that there should be warnings on the labels of bottles to the public:
“There is no safe level of alcohol consumption in terms of cancer risk. Everyone should know if a substance carries that sort of risk. Posters shouldn’t say ‘drink responsibly’ they should say something about the health risks, particularly around cancer…
“The protective effects [of alcohol] are limited to older age groups and anything more than half a glass of wine a night is not beneficial. If someone has a heavy night, drinking a bottle of wine in a night, just once a month, all the health benefits are wiped out. The way most people drink is giving them no health benefit at all.
“We need to tackle the harmful effects of alcohol in the same way as tobacco. It is a fundamental right that people should not that alcohol causes cancer.”
As somebody who genuinely enjoys her booze, I was not only shocked by these findings, I was also frightened. Many of the people I know have a glass of wine a few times a week, and often two or three. I myself just had a couple of beers with dinner tonight, and I never would’ve thought such a seemingly small amount of alcohol could put me at risk. This is just one more example of how important it is to be aware of the risks that apply to activities like drinking, as the more knowledge you have on the subject, the better you’re able to protect yourself from potential consequences.