Intended for healthcare professionals


Cut drinking to reduce risk of cancer, says new guidance

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 08 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i109
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

New guidelines from all four UK chief medical officers warn that drinking any level of alcohol raises the risk of a range of cancers.1

An expert advisory group examined the evidence from 44 systematic reviews and meta-analyses published since its 1995 Sensible Drinking report and concluded that there was strong evidence that the risk of a range of cancers, particularly breast cancer, increased directly in line with consumption of any amount of alcohol (table).

View this table:

Estimated lifetime prevalence of cancer (No of cases per 1000), by alcohol consumption

The guidelines came out at the same time as a report from the Committee on Carcinogenicity, a UK non-statutory advisory body, which said that between 4% and 6% of all new cancers in the UK in 2013 were caused by alcohol consumption.2 This report said that research now showed a statistically significant increase in the risk of cancer at low, medium, …

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