Drinking alcohol is a direct cause of seven types of cancer, researchers have found.
The study, published in the scientific journal Addiction, said there is more than simply a link or statistical association between alcohol and cancer that could be explained by something else.
There is now enough credible evidence to say conclusively that drinking is a direct cause of the disease, according to Jennie Connor, of the preventive and social medicine department at Otago University in New Zealand.
She said the epidemiological evidence can support the judgment that alcohol causes cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast.
Growing evidence also suggests alcohol is likely to cause skin, prostate and pancreatic cancer, Connor said.
The findings are based on reviews undertaken over the past 10 years by the World Cancer Research Fund, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organisation’s cancer body, and other authoritative bodies.
Connor said the highest risks are associated with the heaviest drinking but a considerable burden is experienced by drinkers with low to moderate consumption.
She said campaigns to reduce alcohol consumption should try to encourage everyone to cut down.
Dr Jana Witt, Cancer Research UK’s health information officer, told the Guardian that nine in 10 people are not aware of the link between alcohol and cancer.
She said having some alcohol-free days each week is a good way to cut down alcohol.
According to Connor’s research, there was some evidence that drinkers who gave up alcohol could reverse their risk of laryngeal, pharyngeal and liver cancer, and that their risk reduced the longer they avoided alcohol.