One or two drinks per day may boost risk of certain cancers

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Light to moderate drinking of alcohol—considered up to one alcoholic drink a day for women (about 4 ounces of wine) and up to two drinks (about two 12-ounce beers) per day for men—is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women and other alcohol-related cancers, according to a new study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers. Male smokers who were light to moderate drinkers also were found to have an increased cancer risk for alcohol-related cancers, which include colorectal, oral, liver, pharynx, larynx, and esophageal cancer.

The study was published August 18, 2015 in the BMJ.

“Our study reinforces the dietary guidelines that it is important not to go beyond one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men,” lead author Yin Cao, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition, said in a August 18, 2015 interview on

Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked with increased risk of certain cancers, but less has been known about the impact of light or moderate drinking on cancer risk. Other studies have shown health benefits of moderate drinking, including reducing heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk.