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Japanese Study Links Low Levels of Alcohol Use to Cancer

December 09, 2019

Japanese researchers believe more public education is needed around the issue of alcohol consumption and cancer, following results of a study showing a link between light to moderate drinking and risk of several cancers.

Published today in the American Cancer Society's journal Cancer, the study examined 2005-2016 hospital data in Japan that compared more than 63,000 cancer patients with an equal number of matched controls. All participants reported their average daily alcohol consumption and duration of drinking. The researchers found that cancer risk was lowest at the level of zero consumption, while drinking two or fewer drinks per day resulted in elevated risk no matter how long the participant had used alcohol.

The researchers, led by Masayoshi Zaitsu, MD, PhD, of the University of Tokyo and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, reported that alcohol-related cancer risk appeared mainly with common cancers such as colorectal, breast and prostate.

“In Japan, the primary cause of death is cancer,” Zaitsu said. “Given the current burden of overall cancer incidence, we should further encourage promoting public education about alcohol-related cancer risk.”

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