Heavy drinkers of beer and spirits are at much higher risk of developing cancer, says a study by Canadian epidemiologists and cancer researchers in Montreal.
The first-ever study to establish link between drinking and cancer shows that heavy drinkers face higher risk of developing oesophageal cancer sevenfold, colon cancer by 80 percent and lung cancer by 50 percent.
The researchers said they found statistically significant relationships between heavy consumption of beer and spirits and six different cancers. But moderate drinking (less than one daily) and wine consumption did not show the same effects, the researchers said.
The research was conducted by Andrea Benedetti of McGill University, Marie-Elise Parent of INRS-Institut Armand Frappier and Jack Siemiatycki of Montreal University - all based in Montreal.
"We looked at the data in two ways," study leader Andrea Benedetti, who is an assistant professor at McGill University's departments of medicine and epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health, has been quoted as saying in a statement by Montreal University.
"We compared people who drank heavily to our reference group, who abstained or drank only very occasionally. We also looked for trends across our categories: non-drinkers, weekly drinkers and daily drinkers," she said.
Benedetti said the results were astounding. "We saw increased risk for esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer. The strongest risk was for esophageal and liver cancer," she said.
"This study crystallizes many strands of evidence from different studies on different types of cancer and alcohol consumption," added Jack Siematycki, professor of Canada Research Chair and Guzzo Chair in Environment and Cancer at Montreal University.
The researchers used data originally collected for a large occupational cancer study conducted in Montreal in the 1980s.