THERE is no upside to alcohol, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF): drinking red wine won’t help your heart, a small, regular tipple won’t help you live longer and a night cap won’t halt the onset of dementia in later life.
And it is almost probably certainly unlikely - or at least not guaranteed - not to lower your chances of developing diabetes, as suggested by a Dutch study funded by the American Diabetes Association.
At the launch of a new blueprint to beat cancer, the chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance - an umbrella for organisations working to reduce the damage to health caused by alcohol - said that the new information showed that drinking to one’s health is no longer a healthy pastime.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said: “We welcome the findings of this new World Cancer Research Fund report with its increased evidence around the link between alcohol and cancer.
“It is clear from the evidence in the report that drinking alcohol cannot be justified for other health reasons - to prevent heart disease, for example.
“We hope that this new authoritative report will influence decision-makers to take positive action to address the damage caused by alcohol misuse.”
The new research found that drinking alcohol is strongly linked to an increased risk of six cancers, which is one more than the fund’s findings a decade ago. Along with bowel (colorectum), breast (both pre- and post-menopause), liver, mouth and throat (pharynx and larynx) and oesophagus (squamous cell carcinoma), scientists have found a link between drinking alcohol and stomach cancer.
Around one in six deaths annually worldwide are due to cancer. As more countries adopt ‘Western’ lifestyles, according to the WCRF, the number of new cases of cancer is expected to rise by 58 per cent to 24 million globally per year by 2035.
The small sliver of a silver lining is that there is a probable chance alcohol can lower the chances of contracting cancer of the kidneys - but alcohol does more harm than good overall, WCRF explains.
“The risk [of kidney cancer] is lower for up to two alcoholic drinks a day; however, for more than two drinks a day the level of risk is unclear.
“For some cancers, there is an increased risk with any amount of alcohol consumed, whereas for other cancers the risk becomes apparent from a higher level of consumption, of about two or three drinks a day (30 or 45 grams of alcohol per day),” it, er, clarifies.