The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism define light to moderate alcohol consumption as up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. But according to new research published in The BMJ, even this level of alcohol consumption can increase cancer risk.
Researchers found women who drank up to one alcoholic beverage daily were at greater risk of certain cancers – particularly breast cancer – regardless of smoking history.What is more, the researchers note there has been little research on how alcohol consumption affects cancer risk independent of smoking. Smoking is a well-established risk factor for many alcohol-related cancers, and because drinkers are more likely to smoke, the authors say smoking may have been a confounding factor in previous studies linking alcohol consumption with cancer risk.
However, the researchers found that women who engaged in light to moderate drinking were at greater risk of alcohol-related cancers, particularly breast cancer. This result rang true for women with and without a history of smoking.
Among men, light to moderate drinking was only linked to increased risk of alcohol-related cancers in those who had a history of smoking.