Even Light Drinking Raises Cancer Risk, Study Shows

  • By Kim Chul-joong

    October 18, 2017 11:51

    Drinking as little as one or two shot glasses of soju or Korean distilled liquor a day could raise a person's chances of getting some cancers, a recent study of more than 20 million Koreans reveals.

    The risks are even higher for smokers. While light drinking was once thought to have health benefits, the study suggests it is better to stay away from alcohol altogether.

    A team of researchers at Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province studied the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancers that affect the digestive system in 23.3 million adults over a five-year period.

    In the study, participants were divided into non-drinkers, light drinkers (those who consume less than 30 g of alcohol, or around one to three shot glasses of soju, a day) and heavy drinkers (more than 30 g of alcohol).

    The study showed that 9,171 participants suffered from esophageal cancer, 135,382 from stomach cancer and 154,970 from colorectal cancer.

    Light drinkers had a higher chance of developing cancer than non-drinkers. Specifically, light drinkers had a 50 percent higher chance of developing esophageal cancer and were 12 and 5 percent more at risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. People who consumed just one shot glass of soju a day were still at higher risk for cancer than non-drinkers.

    Heavy drinkers were 3.1 times more at risk of esophageal cancer, 1.2 times more at risk of suffering from stomach cancer and 1.3 times more at risk of suffering from colorectal cancer. Among those who were also smokers, the chance of developing esophageal cancer soared to 5.6 times higher.

    Lee Dong-ho, a researcher who took part in the study, said, "Many people think light drinking is not harmful, but it appears not to be true for Asians, including Koreans, who are genetically predisposed to possess fewer enzymes that break down alcohol compared to other ethnic groups."

    • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com
    Previous Next
    All Headlines Back to Top