Thanks for allergies?

February 9, 2011 by  

Here is another news item that supports the idea that allergies are “a blessing in disguise.“ It may provide protection against a type of brain tumor.

Glioma is “the most common form of primary brain tumors, which start in the brain or spinal cord.” Gliomas may be high- or low-grade tumors.

Here are some findings of a research study by scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The more, the better

It seems that the more allergies you have, the better is your protection.

In fact, patients who had more types of allergies — seasonal, medication, pet, food, and other — had even lower odds of glioma, with an 11% reduction for those with allergies in one category and a 64% reduction for those with allergies in four or more categories.”

This is not the first time that research placed allergies in a whole new – and positive –light. Previous studies have indicated the reverse relationship between allergies and cancer risk. Other studies reported that asthma (a form of allergy) may also have some protective properties.

The current research looked at 419 patients with glioma and compared them with 612 control patients without brain tumor. Of those with glioma, 344 were high-grade and 75 low-grade. The presence of allergies was based on allergy diagnosis but also on their actual use of antihistamines which are medications commonly used for allergies.

“After adjustment for age, race, gender, education, and site, patients with both high- and low-grade glioma were less likely to report having any allergy than the controls.”

So why are allergies indicative of low brain rumor incidence and risk? The scientists believe that those with allergies have an immune system with “enhanced surveillance.” The superactive immune system may actually limit abnormal growth of cells that lead to cancer.

However, more studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

In the meantime, we can cautiously say “Thank God for allergies!”

Menopause and cancer: is there a link?

January 17, 2011 by  
Filed under AGING, CANCER

The years up to when I’d be undergoing menopause can be counted on my fingers. Although I’ve read up on menopause and menopausal symptoms, I still anticipate the stage with trepidation.

Menopause occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning. When this happens, the menstrual cycle ends. The average age for menopause in American women is 51.

Menopause presents a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms, including:

It is no wonder that women undergoing menopause often feel some insecurity about their health, especially how menopause can affect cancer risk and prevention. Dr. Therese Bevers, a specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, USA tries to clarify some of the questions on the link between cancer and menopause. According to Dr. Bevers:

  • “Menopause does not cause cancer.” However, cancer risk increases with advancing age.
  • A late menopause is associated with certain types of cancer. Those who undergo menopause after age 55 have an increased risk of breast as well as endometrial cancer.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often prescribed to alleviate menopausal symptoms. However, HRT has been linked to breast cancer.

It is therefore advisable to look for safer alternatives to HRT. Most of these are lifestyle changes, etc.:

In addition, weight gain or loss after menopause can also affect cancer risk. At this stage of life, weight gain actually increases whereas weight loss decreases cancer risk.

Our neighborhood may influence our cancer risk

December 16, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Moving out from where you live is not easy especially if you live in a good neighborhood.  Everyone wants to live in a good neighborhood, where you feel you belong, where you get help when you need it, where you feel safe and don’t have to worry about being attacked.  Well, this is normal and also reasonable.  A good neighborhood can be beneficial to your health. 

Of course what is really good is relative but a study defines this as a racially mixed neighborhood with lower crime rates.  At least for older people this can have an influence.   To be more exact, you can have higher chances of developing cancer if you live in neighborhoods which are racially separated and have higher crime rates, says a joint study by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.  The study computed the chances to be 31% higher for older men and 25% for older women (50 years old and above).  The head of the research, Vicki Freedman, finds it “remarkable“ that although men and women develop various types of cancer due to their gender differences, the chances of developing cancer given this relationship are similar in strength.   According to Dr. Freedman

(it) suggests that a nonspecific biological mechanism may be involved, possibly stress response that interrupts the body’s ability to fight the development of cancer cells”.

 It has always been thought that socioeconomic factors such as social deprivation and lifestyle like smoking, diet and lack of sport or exercise explain the link between racial segregation and health.  However, researchers found that „segregation and crime increased the chances of developing cancer even after controlling for socioeconomic resources at both the individual and the neighborhood levels“.  The researchers took a look as well at other factors such as exposure to air pollution and other toxins in their surroundings but found the influence of crime rates and racial segregation on the onset of cancer to be independent of these confounding factors.

 The social and biological mechanisms underlying these findings are really complex and are not easy to explain.  Years of research will be needed till we fully understand these relationships. Till then, we should choose carefully where we live. If we have the choice.

Can fish oil stop breast cancer in its tracks?

September 21, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Fish oil has been touted to prevent cardiovascular disease. Now this heart-friendly supplement has another health benefit: lowering the risk for breast cancer. Fish oil supplements contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, substances that are beneficial to heart health and apparently also have some anticancer benefits.

This was revealed in a study conducted by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The study participants consisted of 35,016 postmenopausal women with no family history of breast cancer. The women completed a questionnaire on vitamin use. After 6 years, a total of 880 study participants were diagnosed with breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer was reduced by 32% among those who regularly took fish oil supplements. The protective effects of fish oil seem to be true only for invasive ductal breast cancer, which is the most common form of the disease.

What about other supplements?

Other forms of “specialty supplements” that are used to treat menopausal complaints do not seem to have an effect on cancer risk.

This is the first ever study to report the anti-cancer benefits of fish oil and although the results are promising, and even exciting, experts warn that more studies are needed before they can truly recommend fish oil as preventive measure against breast cancer. Previous studies on fish oil intake obtained inconsistent and inconclusive results.

According to study author Dr. Emily White,

“It may be that the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements is higher than most people would typically get from their diet. Without confirming studies specifically addressing this, we should not draw any conclusions about a causal relationship.”

According to Dr. Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health

“It is very rare that a single study should be used to make a broad recommendation. Over a period of time, as the studies confirm each other, we can start to make recommendations.”

I do not think I would start taking fish oil supplements now but I think this news is comforting for those who are already taking the supplements for heart problems that they might be fighting two monster diseases with just one pill. Or is it too good to be true?

In the meantime, more research studies are being planned and we hope that we will have the answers soon.

Do IVF children have increased risk for cancer?

August 17, 2010 by  

The long-term effects of in vitro fertilization (IVF) on the mother and on the child have always been a topic of speculation. Louise Joy Brown, the first person born who was conceived via IVF (used to be called the “first test tube baby”) turned 32 last July and she herself is a mother to a 3-year old who was conceived naturally. Researchers could only monitor and record what they observe and know about Louise and thousands, maybe millions of IVF babies like her as they grow, reproduce and eventually die. Only time can tell whether there are long-term health effects associated with this type of assisted reproduction.

One of the first results on the ongoing observation of IVF children are out – coming from Sweden.

Swedish researchers at the University of Lund followed-up 26,692 children born after conception via IVF between 1982 and 2005. Cancer data were extracted from Swedish Cancer Register and comparison was made between cancer patients who were born after IVF and those were not. The results indicate an increased risk for cancer among those conceived by IVF.

The expected number of cancer cases in the general population is 38. Among the IVF children of the same age, 53 were diagnosed with cancer, equivalent to a 1.42 total cancer risk estimate. The most common forms of cancer diagnosed among IVF children were:

In addition, 6 cases of Langerhans histiocytosis were reported where 1 case is expected.

The researchers ruled out maternal age, number of previous babies delivered, smoking, subfertility, previous miscarriages, body weight and multiple births as the cause of the increased cancer risk. Although, it can be speculated that the mode of conception might play a role, the researchers think this may not be the case.

Instead, factors that should be considered are genetic traits from the parents, many of whom may have had health problems that manifested in the infertility that made use IVF in the first place.

Another factor is the fact that IVF resulted in many multiple births that in return led to preterm delivery. Premature babies have higher risks for health problems than babies born at full term.

In addition, the study only looked at Swedish children, and the Swedish population has relatively lower biodiversity compared to say, the UK or the US where IVF is commonly used as assisted reproduction technique. Thus, findings in these children might not be true in IVF children elsewhere.

The authors are quick to reassure parents of IVF children that although they found “a moderately increased risk for cancer in children who were conceived by IVF”, absolute risks are still very low – less than 1%.

The young drinker and her risk for breast cancer

April 27, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Young and free – that’s how adolescents feel. But remember that you are not free to do anything you want as if there is no tomorrow. What you do today, can affect your health in the future.

Take the case of alcohol consumption. Teenage binge drinking is becoming a widespread problem in developed countries. A previous post indicated the health risks of adolescent drinking. Here is another study that reports an additional and very serious risk: the risk for breast cancer.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard University report that teenage girls who drink alcohol increases their risk for benign breast disease and eventually more aggressive cancerous form of the disease.

According study author to Dr. Graham Colditz at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital:

“Our study clearly showed that the risk of benign breast disease increased with the amount of alcohol consumed in this age group. The study is an indication that alcohol should be limited in adolescence and early adult years and further focuses our attention on these years as key to preventing breast cancer later in life.”

The researchers looked at 6,899 American girls aged 9 to 15 years old as part of the Growing Up Today Study. The results of the study indicate that alcohol consumption increased the likelihood of developing benign lumps in the developing breasts. The higher the alcohol consumption, the greater is the risk. Those who drank 6 to 7 days a week have a 5.5 times likelihood of developing breast lumps and lesions. You may ask: who cares about a few benign breast lumps? However, many aggressive breast cancer start as benign, thus making these seemingly innocuous lumps important markers for cancer risk.

The validity of the results is high because it studied adolescents and followed them up to adulthood. Other studies on association between alcohol and breast cancer were on adult women who had to report on drinking habits in their younger years.

“There’s growing evidence that physical activity can lower breast cancer risk. We also know that diet and weight are important factors. Now it is clear that drinking habits throughout life affect breast cancer risk, as well.”

There has been evidence showing that alcohol consumption increases cancer risk. The current study suggests that the earlier a woman starts drinking alcohol, the higher is risk increase.

CT scans and cancer risk

December 21, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

Over the years, the diagnostic technique of CT, short for computed tomography imaging, has enabled doctors to detect tumors and save lives. The CT technique uses special x-ray equipment in order to obtain cross-sectional images of the body. The images provide detailed images of organs, bones, and other tissues and enable doctors to view structures not easily visible with traditional X-rays. Unfortunately, this advancement in diagnostic imaging technique comes with a price – exposure to higher X-ray radiation and thereby increased risk for cancer.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco that newer CT scanners may produce better images but also produce variable levels of radiation that is very much unregulated. Concerns are especially expressed because

The ease and convenience of CT scans make clinicians perform the procedure more frequently than before.

More and more CT scans are performed in healthy people for screening purposes that may not be necessary.

Newer models of scanners are much faster in taking pictures, again often leading the clinicians to take more scans than needed.

According to lead investigator Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a professor of radiology at UCSF:

“In day-to-day clinical practice, we found significant variation in the radiation doses for the same type of computed tomography procedures within institutions and across institutions. Our results highlight the need for greater standardization because this is a medical safety issue.”

The re4searchers estimated the radiation exposure of patients in connection with the 11 most common types of CT procedures used in US clinical practice and the potential cancer risk associated with each type. Their results revealed:

  • 1 in 270 women and 1 in 600 men who underwent a CT coronary angiogram at age 40 years will develop cancer due to the procedure.
  • The estimated risk for a routine head CT at the age 40 is 1 in 8,100 for women and 1 in 11,080 for men. The risk doubles in patients having the procedure around the age of 20 years.
  • In some patient populations, the risk for cancer of certain CT procedures can be as high as 1 in 80.

To put things into perspective, the researchers compared CT radiation exposure to other imaging procedures. They found that the median effective dose delivered through a single CT scan can be equivalent to doses used in 74 mammograms or 442 chest x-rays

The researchers are calling for more regulation in the use of CT scans in the US. They have identified three key practices necessary to improve the safety of CT procedures and the associated radiation doses:

•Reduction of unnecessary studies and studies thought unlikely to influence clinical decisions.

•Standardization and utilization of low-dose and lower-dose protocols for every CT scanner.

•Standardization of radiation doses across patients and facilities through federal legislation and FDA oversight stipulating how CTs are to be safely performed.

Cancer, the price of immigration?

November 2, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

travel_girlMany people move to the United States to find a better life. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out especially when it comes to health. Take for example the Hispanics. According to this study by researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine , Hispanics who migrated to the US have a 40% increase of likelihood to develop certain types of cancer. The study looked at more than 300,000 cancer patients included in the Florida Cancer Data system from 1999 to 2001. Data analysis showed that Hispanics in the state have a higher risk to develop cancer compared to those who stayed at home .However, the increase was not homogenously observed among all Hispanics. The highest cancer rates were observed among the Puerto Ricans, followed by the Cubans, while the Mexicans have the least increase.

The researchers hypothesize that a major reason for the increase in cancer rates is the exposure and adoption of the immigrants to less healthy lifestyles with include:

  • Unhealthy diet (e.g. increase consumption of fatty and junk food)
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Increased cigarette smoking

However, the role that better diagnostic services in the US play in this cannot be ruled out.

The lifestyle change hypothesis explains why some Hispanics are more vulnerable than others. The Puerto Ricans were among those who have lived the longest in the US whereas the Mexicans were virtually newcomers.

According to study leader Dr. Paulo Pinheiro

“Mexicans in Florida are very recent arrivals. They have had less exposure to the U.S. environment.”

The Cubans in the US have the most dramatic risk increase compared to those who stayed home. In particular, this group of Hispanics is susceptible to colorectal, endometrial and prostate cancers which might be partly influenced by diet.

The Puerto Ricans are more likely to develop alcohol-related cancers such as cancer of the liver.

Male Hispanics have increased incidence of cigarette-related cancers especially lung cancer whereas female Hispanics have increased incidence of cervical cancer compared to those who did move to the US.

Despite the observed increased rates, Hispanics still fare relatively better compared to non-immigrant Americans in terms of cancer rates.

The Hispanics are not the only immigrants whose health is affected by lifestyle change in the new country. Breast cancer incidence is very low among Asian women but increases in incidence among those who moved to the US.

Alcohol consumption increases cancer risk in men, too.

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

alcohol-funny-glassesIt was only earlier this year that the Million Women Study reported the following: alcohol consumption even at low levels increases women’s risk for cancer.

It seems that the same is true for men as well. Canadian researchers have recently reported that moderate to heavy drinking increases the risk among men of developing several types of cancer.

About 13 cancers are linked to lifetime heavy alcohol consumption, among them are:

  • Esophageal cancer, with a 7-fold risk increase
  • Colon cancer, 80% increase
  • Lung cancer, 50% increase
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Prostate cancer

The strongest link was found to be with esophageal and liver cancer. This doesn’t come as surprise to me. My eldest brother died of esophageal cancer 4 years ago which metastasized to his liver. He had been a heavy drinker for more than 20 years.

These significantly increased risks, however, were not observed among moderate (less than daily) and light drinkers.

And as expected, the more alcohol is consumed, the higher is the risk of having cancer. In fact, the study results indicate that alcohol consumption may be responsible for up to 5% of cancer deaths.

The researchers from the University of Montreal looked at 3,600 study participants and data on their cancer history and alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption is especially linked to a very aggressive type of prostate cancer. In another study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, alcohol consumption was found to counteract the effect of finasteride (Proscar), a drug used as prophylactic therapy to prevent cancer of the prostate. The study concluded that

“Heavy, daily drinking increased the risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Heavy drinking made finasteride ineffective for reducing prostate cancer risk.”

For wine lovers, it might be comforting to know that this link to cancer was only observed for beer and spirit consumption but not for wine. However, hasty conclusions should not be made before more data are available.

According to author Dr. Andrea Benedetti of McGill University

“For the most part we showed that light drinkers were less affected or not affected at all. It is people who drink every day or multiple times a day who are at risk. This adds to the growing body of evidence that heavy drinking is extremely unhealthy in so many ways. Cancer very much included.”

Cancer risk and advanced maternal age

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

mom-and-childThe trend among women nowadays is to put off having children as late as possible. A lot of factors contribute to this trend. One of these is something to do with the changing role of women in society and how they have to combine career and motherhood. The result is the term called “advanced maternal age” and I have to admit I am one of these “old mommies.”

Women have always been warned that advanced maternal age comes with health risks both mom and baby. Some of these are difficult pregnancy, increased risk for pregnancy complication, increased risk for chromosomal and genetic aberrations for the baby. With advances in medicine, however, many of these risks can be predicted and minimized.

Researchers at the Masonic Cancer Center report about discovering another health risk for children of women of advanced age – increased risk for childhood cancer.

The most common forms of childhood cancer are:

  • leukaemia
  • lymphoma
  • central nervous system tumor
  • neuroblastoma
  • Wilms’ tumor
  • bone cancer
  • soft tissue sarcoma.

The likelihood of children under 15 having one of these diseases is 1 in 435. The odds, however, seem to be higher in children of older mommies.

The researchers conducted a population-base study on children aged 0 to 14 years of age from the states of New York, Washington, Minnesota, Texas, and California. 17,672 children diagnosed with cancer and 57,966 who were not were included in the study.

The study showed that there is a slight but still significant increase in the risk for childhood cancers among children of moms with advanced age. For every five-year increase in maternal age, there was 7 to 10% increase in the likelihood of developing 7 of the 10 most common childhood cancers before the age of 15. The age of the father, however, does not seem to play a significant role.

According to

The researchers, led by head author Dr. Logan Spector believe this has something to do with “age-related changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy and alterations in DNA markings in eggs that can be transmitted to the offspring.”

“A mechanism of inherited mutation is consistent with our finding that the maternal age effect was strongest among children diagnosed with cancer at the earliest age.”

Studies such as these are becoming more relevant because of the current trends of having kids later. In the US alone, babies born to mothers 30 years old and older increased from 18% in 1970 to 37% in 2005.

Should moms like me be worried? I don’t think so. Maternal age may play a role in cancer development in children but it is not the only factor. Who says life is without risks?

Diet and cancer risk: vegetarians are the winners

July 28, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

vegetables-freshThis is probably one of the largest studies to investigate the effect of diet and cancer risk. The study included more than 60,000 British residents and lasted for more than 12 years.

And the results indicate that a vegetarian diet lowers the risk for 20 different types of cancers.

According to researcher Dr. Naomi Allen

“This is strong evidence that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer than meat eaters.”

The study used the British data from an even larger study called the European Perspective Investment into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) which is tracking half a million Europeans.

The dietary characteristics of the participants are:

  • 32,403 meat eaters
  • 8,562 who ate fish but not meat
  • 20,601 vegetarians

During a 12.2-year follow up period, a large proportion of meat eaters developed cancer whereas the lowest incidence of cancer was among the vegetarians.

Statistically speaking, vegetarians were 12% less likely to develop cancer than those who ate meat. The fish eaters have also a lower likelihood – 18% less than meat eaters.

It has been known that red meat consumption is a risk factor for stomach cancer. What is surprising is the fact that the risk for lymph and blood cancers (e.g. leukaemia, lymphoma) is also much lower among vegetarians – in fact, much lower compared to other cancers. In the general population, the likelihood of developing any type of cancer is 33 in 100 people. For vegetarians, it’s 29 for every 100 people. When just looking at blood cancers, vegetarians had 50% lower risk that meat eaters. In one rare cancer of the bone marrow called multiple myeloma, the risk for vegetarians is even 75% less. Another cancer that is linked to the vegetarian diet is bladder cancer – 45% lower risk for vegetarians compared to meat eaters, However, risk for common cancers such as cancer of the prostate, breast and bowel isn’t seem to be dependent on diet and is basically the same for meat eaters and non-meat eaters.

The mechanisms behind the diet – cancer risk link is not very clear and health experts warn not to jump into conclusions and change diet immediately. However, it is comforting to know that it may be possible to modify our cancer risk by lifestyle change such as diet. We don’t have to change our diets and become all vegetarians doesn’t the study findings support the common but ignored knowledge of what a balanced diet is?

“A healthy, balanced diet [and] high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fat, salt and red and processed meat.”

Can folic acid increase cancer risk?

April 29, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

pregnancy-2In the developed world, many food stuffs, especially flour and grain products, are fortified with folate and folic acid. Folic acid fortification has been going on since 1998 and its goal is to make sure that women consume enough folate during pregnancy. Deficiency of this essential vitamin can lead to birth defects, including the much-dreaded spina bifida.

“Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, which is a B vitamin that occurs naturally in leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables. It has been shown to significantly reduce the chance of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and helps produce and maintain healthy cells and is involved in numerous biological functions.”

Now, just over a decade later, there is a growing body of research that questions the benefits and risks of folic acid fortification. There have been indications, for example, that “long-term consumption of folate and folic acid may increase the risk of developing certain cancers in some people.

In a recent study, Canadian researchers at the University of Toronto report that consumption of folic acid consumed during pregnancy can cause changes in gene function of the unborn offspring, changes which can potentially affect its susceptibility to certain diseases, including cancer.

The study is one of many in the relatively new field of epigenetics which looks at how certain genes and gene functions are “turned on” or “turned off” by environmental factors that include diet and lifestyle.

In some cases, genes that protect the body against certain types of cancer can be shut off, while genes that promote tumour formation can be turned on. Changes to genes can also trigger mutations, which explains why epigenetics has been gaining so much attention in the scientific community for its potential ability to help explain the mystery of disease risk.

Many health officials are concerned that the population is consuming excessive amounts of folic acid, leading to the abovementioned gene alternations. The effects of these alterations, however, are not clearly known.

The current study has been performed in rats and can’t conclusively say whether folic acid fortification has detrimental effects on human health, especially that of the unborn child. However several studies in humans have shown that folic acid supplementation does not lower risks for heart disease or cancer.

In fact,

“…it’s becoming harder to ignore the growing debate about folic acid. Despite its clear benefits when taken by pregnant women, the move to fortify food with folic acid means a major portion of the population is consuming a higher level of the supplement than they would otherwise. Now, concern is growing that parts of the population that may be susceptible to colon cancer and other diseases could be put at greater risk due to their inadvertent exposure to folic acid.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Alcohol: even a little increases cancer risk

February 26, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

Alcohol is a substance of contradictions. Some cultures dismiss it as evil, some consider it as an integral part of their lifestyle. Some health experts swear to its benefits, while others are sceptical. Now, here is a study that will surely cause uproar.

The latest results from the Million Women Study suggest that “even low to moderate alcohol consumption significantly increases the risk of cancer, both overall and at specific sites.”

The study looked at 1,280,296 middle-aged women (median age is 55 years) in the UK recruited between 1996 and 2001 and followed up for an average of 7.2 years. The drinking habits and cancer incidence among the participants were analyzed, with the following results:

  • 68,775 study participants were diagnosed with cancer.
  • 25% of the participants drank alcohol regularly.
  • 98% of those who drink consumed on average, one drink per day, which is considered to be low to moderate consumption.
  • Very few drank excessively, e.g. three or more drinks a day
  • The risk for all types of cancer increased with increasing consumption of alcohol.

The study identified specific types of cancer that is especially linked to alcohol consumption and there are cancers of the breast, rectum, and liver. When combined with smoking, alcohol consumption can also lead to an increase in the risk for cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, and larynx.

Whereas several studies have previously shown that some alcoholic drinks are more benevolent than others, this study reports that the kind of drink doesn’t make much of a difference.

The study concluded:

Low to moderate alcohol consumption in women increases the risk of certain cancers. For every additional drink regularly consumed per day, the increase in incidence up to age 75 years per 1000 for women in developed countries is estimated to be about 11 for breast cancer, 1 for cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, 1 for cancer of the rectum, and 0.7 each for cancers of the esophagus, larynx and liver, giving a total excess of about 15 cancers per 1000 women up to age 75.

The results of this study are really “sobering” in many ways and contradict many study results before it. Many women in developed countries, especially in Europe and North America drink occasionally. In many parts of Europe, drinking a glass of wine during meal is part of the culinary culture. I do like a glass of wine every now and then. After all, alcohol, especially red wine, when taken in moderation, is said to have some benefits for cardiovascular health.

However, sceptics cannot deny the power of this research study based on its large sample size and long follow-up period. Editors of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute wrote “from a standpoint of cancer risk, the message of this report could not be clearer. There is no level of alcohol consumption that can be considered safe.” Their advice is “Alcohol, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer: Treat With Caution.”

The study was done excluively on women so it is not clear whether these risks are true for men as well. It has been well-documented that alcohol can have some gender-specific effects.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.