24 Jul 2016

Cancer, alcohol study misleading - Spirits NZ

9:07 am on 24 July 2016

A new study which links drinking to seven different types of cancer has been dismissed by the New Zealand Spirits Industry.

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Photo: RNZ/ Kim Baker Wilson

The major study of existing international research said there was strong evidence of a direct harmful effect of drinking, although the biological reasons for this remained unclear.

The study's author, University of Otago researcher Jennie Connor, said she found the cancers linked directly to drinking were those of the mouth and throat, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, bowel and breast.

The highest risks were associated with the heaviest drinking, but drinkers with low to moderate consumption were also affected, she said.

Spirits New Zealand chief executive Robert Brewer said the research was misleading and oversimplified a complex issue.

"There are a whole lot of things that increase the risk of cancer and in some cases, yes, alcohol is one of them. But to say alcohol causes cancer is just not right."

He said it was often a mix in lifestyle, as well as socio-cultural and genetic factors that played a part in causing the disease.

"There's no doubt however that heavy consumption of alcohol is associated with a whole range of health effects and some cancers, there's no denying that, but moderate consumption [is something very different]," he said.

"Moderate drinking, as part of a normal healthy lifestyle, has been shown to have beneficial health impacts - in fact, repeated international studies find that those who drink moderately live longer than those who do not drink at all."

Professor Connor's findings have been published online in scientific journal Addiction.

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