Breast cancer could be triggered by just one glass of wine a DAY
International team found light drinking could increase risk of mouth, throat and breast cancerBut reviewers said study had many limitations and didn't mention the positive effect on heart health



14:27 GMT, 19 September 2012

Light drinking: Previous studies have found it benefits the heart but the latest research found a link with breast cancer

Light drinking: Previous studies have found it benefits the heart but the latest research found a link with breast cancer

Just one glass of wine a day could trigger breast cancer and other tumours, scientists suggest.

An international team compared the effects between those who consumed up to one typical drink of alcohol a day with ‘non-drinkers’ in terms of relative risks for a number of types of cancer.

The researchers concluded there were detectable increases in cancer cases involving the mouth, throat, gullet and breast.

The team, from the University of Milan and other
centres in the U.S, Canada, Iran, France and Sweden, estimated that in just one year, light drinking caused 24,000 deaths from oesophageal cancer, 5,000 from oral and 5,000 from breast cancer worldwide.

The latest research pooled data from a number of previous studies, involving more than 150,000 people. The study was published in the Annals of Oncology

It was carried out because most observational studies have shown that alcohol intake, especially heavy drinking, increases a number of cancers in the upper-digestive tract. Even moderate drinking is associated with a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer.

But the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research who reviewed the findings said they were concerned about a number of aspects of the study.

These included the fact the investigators included both ex-drinkers and never drinkers in their reference group and that they had no data on the duration of alcohol consumption at different levels.

The researchers also did not adjust their estimates for other lifestyle habits, including smoking. All of these factors tend to weaken the implications of their results, they said.

The reviewers were also concerned despite the acknowledged limitations of their data the authors presented conclusions that didn't comment on the overall health effects of light drinking.

They present only the effects on cancer but do not comment on the overall or net health effects of light drinking – such as a marked reduction in the risk of much more common diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, and a longer lifespan.

The Forum considered while their analyses may be helpful in understanding associations between alcohol and cancer, the many limitations indicate it can provide only incomplete information on light alcohol consumption to be used as a basis for making recommendations to the public.

Forum member Dr Erik Skovenborg, of the Scandinavian Medical Alcohol Board in Aarhus, Denmark, said: 'The many caveats are not reflected in the unambiguous conclusion of the authors, and you may be sure that in the near future some public health authorities are going to make full use of the conclusions in their warning campaigns against even light alcohol consumption – without mentioning any caveats.'