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Alcohol and Cancer

Posted 6/11/2015

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  This is another one of those recurring topics that stimulate a lot of discussion and feeling. Is there a link between alcohol and cancer risk? If so, are these specific cancers that are implicated (e.g. head and neck) or is it a broader association? And is it an association or a link or something else? And how important is it anyway?

  Since I am traveling tomorrow and unsure whether I will be able to post, this is a second for today--and on a topic that never grows old. I remember being in Paris some years ago when the first reports came out (from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Meetings) about the possible link between wine and risk of breast cancer or breast cancer recurrence. I had just happily come back to the hotel after a lovely day that included the perfect lunch of a cheese omelet (and I am a very good omelet maker, but never have been able to do it the way they do in France), small salad, french fries, and a glass of wine. I have clear memories of reading the reports, groaning, and then quickly deciding they were not going to change my vacation habits.

  This is an excellent article, actually both an article and a link to a video, from Medscape:

'Sherlock Holmes' on the Question of Alcohol and Cancer

Dr Kerr: We always think of you as Sherlock Holmes. You know the epidemiology. You're the detective of cancer. One of the controversies that has beset us recently is about alcohol. I find it confusing. I'm a teetotaler, as you know. Lifelong, never having done it. But is it controversial about alcohol? There is an association between alcohol and a risk of developing cancer.

Dr Boyle: Oh, yes. It has been known for over 120-130 years, quantified since about 1911 in the United Kingdom when the excess of oral cancer and tongue cancer in publicans and people in the drinks industry with access to lots of alcohol came about. Then there were publications about absinthe in France in the 1930s. It's very, very clear.

Dr Kerr: Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder?

Read or watch more:



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  • Michelle Jacobson said:
    6/18/2015 3:17 PM

    Thank you for this post Hester. I often wonder how much (if any) wine is safe. I was diagnosed three years ago and still agonize over this topic. Can you tell me the gist of the article - I wasn't able to access it. Thank you!