Alcohol and Cancer

alcoholic drinksJust one or two drinks can increase your cancer risk or make an existing tumor grow faster.

We all know drinking to excess is bad for us. Now there’s a reason to cut out alcohol consumption altogether: It may cause tumors to grow faster. According to a report in Medical News Today, cardiovascular physiologist Dr. Jian-Wei Gu found the connection completely by accident.

“Scientists have known for a hundred years that there was a strong association between alcohol consumption and several types of cancer,” Gu said. But it’s one thing to know there’s a connection, it’s another to prove it. Gu said he was able to do what those before him couldn’t: show how alcohol consumption actually causes tumor growth. As a result, his research has already been sited in USA Today, Science News, New Scientist and on CBS News.

Alcohol consumption seems to be a risk factor even for breast cancer. But experiments in the lab have failed until now to show the effects in animals that observers knew to be true in humans. The problem was that past researchers were using too much alcohol, causing the animals to waste away without showing abnormal tumor growth.

Gu fed his subjects the equivalent of one or two drinks a day in humans (previous studies used 20 times that amount). Using what he terms “physiologically relevant” levels of alcohol, he was able to stimulate tumor growth in both chick embryos and in mice.

It’s just one more reason to pass on happy hour tonight or opt for a seltzer.

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