A new study published in the scientific journal Addiction could be a serious buzzkill for your happy hour. Research out of Otago University in New Zealand claims to have found a direct link between alcohol consumption and the development of a variety of cancer types.
While liver cancer has long been medically associated with drinking, the latest study shows that drinking could in fact be linked in seven different types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, skin, pancreas, and prostate—and potentially even more. Professor Jennie Connor drew upon data from a number of studies conducted by the World Cancer Research Fund over the past 10 years to analyze what kind of roll booze plays in the development of the disease. The data provided by the research fund, which is run by the World Health Organization, showed that 5.8 percent of cancer deaths could be linked to alcohol consumption directly.
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Connor warns that even drinking booze in small quantities—such as a glass or two of wine—puts you at risk for cancer. Though heavy drinkers are in greater jeopardy, the researcher says that everyone should cut down on their consumption, regardless of how great or small it currently is.
"There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others," Connor writes in her conclusion. The study author goes on to write that while they haven't confirmed the "specific biological mechanisms by which alcohol increases the incidence of each type of cancer," that "is not required to infer that alcohol is a cause."
According to The Guardian, this study provides addition backbone for a recent movement in England to create stricter drinking guidelines. Dame Sally Davies, a chief medical officer in England petitioned to parliament to reduce the country's recommended alcohol limits due to the connection to the disease.
"We know that nine in 10 people aren't aware of the link between alcohol and cancer," says Dr. Jana Witt, Cancer Research U.K.'s health information officer. "This review is a stark reminder that there's strong evidence linking the two." Witt recommends a good first step to cutting down on consumption have "some alcohol-free days each week" and cutting down on quantities in general.