Alcohol and cancer.


KLARICH AND COLLEAGUES (2015), based on an analysis of 21 relevant articles addressing the relationship of alcohol consumption to colorectal cancer (CRC), found that alcohol consumption increased the risk for CRC when intake exceeded 30 g/d. However, their conclusion in the abstract that “appropriate recommendations should encourage intakes below 30 g of alcohol each day” (Klarich et al., 2015 p. 1280) appears unjustified. Recommendations like this should never be based on an analysis of a single disease outcome, particularly in light of the fact that alcohol has been causally linked to more than 200 diseases and injury codes in the International Classification of Diseases. As the authors acknowledge, alcohol consumption should not be encouraged. Further, the suggested limit is higher than that recommended by most European drinking guidelines and entails a higher risk than would be acceptable for any other risk factor (Rehm et al., 2014). The consumption of alcohol must not be encouraged. The European Code Against Cancer addresses this issue clearly: “if you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention” (Scoccianti et al., 2015, p. 6). It is well known that ethanol (EtOH) and acetaldehyde are included as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization), and quantities of <30 g/d have been shown to increase the risk of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and breast (Gonzales et al., 2014; International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2012; Nelson et al., 2013; Testino et al., 2012). In addition, the positive role of polyphenols found in red wine is questionable. In fact, the protective effect of alcoholic beverages for ischemic heart disease and diabetes mellitus type II is directly related to EtOH. As previously reported (Testino et al., 2013, 2015), the amount of resveratrol required for protective effects is 50 mg/d. Grape skins contain 50 to 100 lg of resveratrol per gram (dry weight) and the concentration in red wine is about 2 to 12 mg/l; a person weighing 70 to 80 kg would have to eat up to 6 kg of grapes or drink several liters of red wine to reach a dose of 50 mg/d. Lachenmeier and colleagues (2014) showed that one would need to consume 111 glasses of wine daily to reach that dose. As quoted by the authors in the introduction (Klarich et al., 2015), Bagnardi and colleagues (2001, p. 1704) concluded that: “the analysis was unable to identify a threshold level of alcohol consumption below which no increased risk for cancer is evident.” Thus, the final message on EtOH should be clear: It is toxic, carcinogenic, teratogenic, and potentially addictive. By arguing otherwise, scientists can give the alcohol lobby and advertisers the opportunity to manipulate the scientific evidence to generate profits.

DOI: 10.1111/acer.12858

Cite this paper

@article{Testino2015AlcoholAC, title={Alcohol and cancer.}, author={Gianni Testino and Silvia Leone and Alessandro Sumberaz and P. Borro}, journal={Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research}, year={2015}, volume={39 11}, pages={2261} }