By now, we have all read or heard that the pandemic has caused a surge in alcohol sales. We also know or intuit that misuse of alcohol can result in a substance use disorder. And after an overindulgence, we might begin to understand that alcohol touches and can damage every system in the body. But did you know that alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of cancer? Behind only tobacco and overweight.
And while more than 60% of Americans have at least a moderate fear of cancer, less than a third recognize alcohol as a risk factor.
While medical experts have long recognized alcohol as a risk factor for various cancers, including cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus and liver, a survey conducted by ASCO in 2017 of 4,016 American adults found that fewer than a third recognized alcohol as a risk factor for cancer.
In an October Citizen Petition, to the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), eight organizations, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Public Health Association, called on the federal government to change the warning label on alcohol sold in the U.S.
The warning label currently reads (warnings are randomly displayed):
(1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during
pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages
impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.
The Petition asks that the TTB, augment the warning to add:
WARNING: According to the Surgeon General, consumption of alcoholic beverages
can cause cancer, including breast and colon cancers.
In June of 2020, The American Cancer Society released new guidelines on alcohol use and cancer. They took a strong stance on alcohol consumption, stating that moderate drinking is not protective, and that alcohol as a leading preventable health hazard.
According to the American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention, it is best not to drink alcohol. People who choose to drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
For More Information:
Excursions – Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers
The New York Times March 4, 2021