Alcohol is a carcinogenic (cancer causing) substance, yet only 1 in 5 people are aware of the risks that alcohol can bring. 10% of the total cancers in males and 3% of the total cancers in females are thought to be associated with alcohol consumption. A range of cancers are linked to alcohol, including liver cancer and prostate cancer. Any alcohol can increase the risk, so there isn't a "safer" alcoholic drink to gravitate to.
Other lifestyle behaviours, when combined with drinking alcohol, also can increase the risks - last year Cancer Research UK suggested 40% of cancers could be prevented by improved lifestyles. Alcohol can contribute to weight gain, which increases the risks of developing cancers of the oesophagus, pancreas, bowel, endometrium, kidney and breast. Smoking combined with drinking can increase the risks of developing cancers of the mouth and throat significantly.
The levels of consumption which start to impact on cancer development are relatively low: drinking regularly more than 18 grams of alcohol per day (roughly two glasses of wine or one and a half pints of beer) starts to increase risk levels of developing breast cancer, for instance. Basically the more you drink the higher the risk.
Dr Nick Sheron, from the Royal College of Physicians, and representative to the EU Alcohol and Health Forum, said of the links between alcohol and cancers: "Consumers of alcohol have a basic right to be informed of this unfortunate reality. Consumers of alcohol can substantially lower their risk of developing cancer by drinking less and less often".
For more information on alcohol and health risks read "What damage does alcohol do to our bodies?". For information and tips on alcohol and how to have a healthier lifestyle visit Change4Life or NHS Choices alcohol pages.