Even when consumed in moderation, alcohol is a “definite risk factor” for cancer, according to a special report by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1 Whether consumption is light, moderate, or heavy, alcohol causes cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, and head and neck, the authors reported.

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.2 Alcohol consumption can also “delay or negatively impact cancer treatment,” the authors noted.

ASCO’s Cancer Prevention Committee called for public education and outreach efforts by the oncology community, including alcohol screening, increased alcohol taxes and prices, and limits on days and hours of sale. The authors also called for enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting alcohol sales to minors, and restrictions to young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising.

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More information is available on ASCO’s patient information website, cancer.net.

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  1. LoConte NK, Brewster AM, Kaur JS, Merrill JK, Alberg AJ. Alcohol and cancer: a statement of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. J Clin Oncol. 2017 Nov 7. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2017.76.1155 [Epub ahead of print]
  2. National survey reveals most Americans are unaware of key cancer risk factors. American Society of Clinical Oncology website. https://www.asco.org/advocacy-policy/asco-in-action/national-survey-reveals-most-americans-are-unaware-key-cancer-risk?et_cid=39746367&et_rid=505109416&linkid=National+Cancer+Opinion+Survey. Published October 24, 2017. Accessed November 7, 2017.