Death, cancer risk lowest in light drinkers

New research from Belfast
  • Deborah Condon

The combined risk of death and dying from a number of cancers is lowest among people who consume less than one alcoholic drink per day, researchers in Belfast have found.

The team from Queen's University looked at whether the combined risk of cancer or death from any cause was different in people with different alcohol intakes across their lifetime. The study involved almost 100,000 people who were followed up for an average of around nine years.

During the study period, over 9,500 people died and more than 12,700 cancers were diagnosed. However, the researchers found that light drinkers, i.e. those who consumed less than one drink per day, had the lowest combined risk of death or developing cancer.

People who never drank, infrequent drinkers, heavy drinkers and very heavy drinkers were all found to have an increased risk of death or developing cancer.

"These results provide further insight into the complex relationship between alcohol consumption, cancer incidence and mortality, and may help inform public health guidelines," commented the study's lead researcher, Dr Andrew Kunzmann, of Queen's School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.

He pointed out that alcohol misuse is a ‘major public health concern' that affects all of society.

"This study helps to provide robust evidence about the health impacts of various levels of alcohol consumption, so that individuals can make informed, healthy decisions," Dr Kunzmann added.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, PLOS Medicine.


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