Even light alcohol consumption linked to higher cancer risk in Japan

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

In a study conducted in Japan, even light to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with elevated cancer risks. In the study published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the overall cancer risk appeared to be the lowest at zero alcohol consumption.


Although some studies have linked limited alcohol consumption to lower risks of certain types of cancer, even light to moderate consumption has been associated with a higher risk of cancer overall. To study the issue in Japan, Masayoshi Zaitsu, MD, PhD, of The University of Tokyo and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and his colleagues examined 2005-2016 information from 33 general hospitals throughout Japan. The team examined clinical data on 63,232 patients with cancer and 63,232 controls matched for sex, age, hospital admission date, and admitting hospital. All participants reported their average daily amount of standardized alcohol units and the duration of drinking. (One standardized drink containing 23 grams of ethanol was equivalent to one 180-milliliter cup (6 ounces) of Japanese sake, one 500-milliliter bottle (17 ounces) of beer, one 180-milliliter glass (6 ounces) of wine, or one 60-milliliter cup (2 ounces) of whiskey.


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