You have no doubt seen and/or heard the recent reports that Alcohol has been named as a direct cause of 7 types of cancer. But do you know how researchers came to this conclusion? I think their claim is a little sketchy – and that’s not because I enjoy a glass of wine With dinner…
New Zealand researchers caused a global stir earlier this week when they released a report pinpointing Alcohol as a direct cause of several types of cancer. I looked more deeply into the story and discovered that the researchers based their conclusions on what the boffins call a meta analysis. That’s a fancy name for a process in which statistical methods are applied to the numerical results of a collection of studies on the same issue to try to determine what henceforth unknown conclusions may be drawn. Sort of. This truly is rocket science!
The New Zealanders drew their conclusion after digesting data on many types of cancer and found a correlation between drinking and the development of 7 different types of cancer. The risk the new report attaches to drinking and cancer varies with the type of cancer and the amount of booze consumed. Sounds reasonable. But critics say there’s far more evidence that drinking boiling hot liquids is the primary cause of throat cancer, for instance, not Alcohol. Other cancers cited in the report also have other well-known causal factors.
So, upon what did the researchers base their conclusions? Turns out they digested data only from alcohol-related cancer studies. They looked at no data about drinkers who don’t get cancer. What I’d like to see is a comparison between how many folks who drink and have never had cancer and how many of the study cases (all cancer sufferers to start with), across the whole population.
The Brits are concerned…
British officials are already proposing reducing the recommended daily limit on Alcohol consumption to 14 units for both women and men. So… What’s a ‘unit’? It’s a mere 10 ml of straight alcohol. But that’s equivalent to: 14 single measures of Spirits (37.5%); seven pints of average-strength (4%) Lager; nine and one-third 125ml glasses of average-strength (12%) Wine; seven 175ml glasses of average-strength (12%) Wine; four and two-thirds 250ml glasses of average-strength (12%) Wine.
My take-away on the alcohol/cancer thing?
Does Alcohol really cause Cancer? Do you really want to find out? On the other hand, I can get along quite nicely on 7-9 glasses of Wine a week, thank you!!
~ Maggie J.