What drinking alcohol means for your cancer and death risk

(Jacqueline Howard, CNN) —The science is clear: Drinking too much alcohol is bad for your health, but exactly how low-risk is light drinking?

A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine on Tuesday provides some new insight. It found that those who drink the most have the highest risks of death and cancer.

Yet the study also found that a person’s combined risk of dying younger or developing cancer is lowest among light drinkers: those consuming only one to three alcoholic drinks per week. That risk increases with each additional drink consumed per week.

Light drinkers appeared to have a lower combined risk of overall mortality or cancer compared with those who never drink, the study found, but more research is needed to determine why.

The study only showed associations between alcohol and such risks, and not any causal relationships.

“We had expected light drinkers to be at a similar combined risk to never drinkers, so the reduced risk in light drinkers was surprising,” said Andrew Kunzmann, a research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland and lead author of the study. (…)

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