Leading charity says it has strong evidence linking alcohol and liver cancer
Just three alcoholic drinks a day can be enough to cause liver cancer according to a leading charity.
“Strong evidence” linking liver cancer with alcoholic drinks is one of several new findings uncovered for the first time by World Cancer Research Fund International’s (WCRF) Continuous Update Project (CUP).
Its assessment of 34 previous studies covering 8.2 million people, more than 24,500 of whom had liver cancer, revealed that an intake of three drinks a day is linked to the disease.
Amanda McLean, director of WCRF UK, said: "Around three or more drinks per day can be enough to cause liver cancer.
“Until now we were uncertain about the amount of alcohol likely to lead to liver cancer.
“But the research reviewed in this report is strong enough, for the first time, to be more specific about this."
Alcohol, like tobacco and asbestos, is a class 1 carcinogen
The WCRF’s findings prompted the Alcohol Health Alliance, a coalition of health organisations, to claim that alcohol is so toxic that cans and bottles should carry health warnings.
“Alcohol, like tobacco and asbestos, is a class 1 carcinogen and it is totally unacceptable that the public is not provided with such basic information”, said Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, the alliance’s chair.
“This report shows that there is no safe level of drinking when it comes to cancer prevention.
"It’s time for the government to take action to minimise the risk of harm, including ensuring that labels carry mandatory health warnings and lists of ingredients to standards that are developed independently from groups with vested interests.”
About one in 100 men and one in 200 women in Britain develop liver cancer at some point in their lifetime, and 4,703 people were diagnosed with it in 2012.
It has one of the lowest survival rates among the 200 different types of cancer.
Women should try to limit themselves to no more than one drink a day and men to two in order to minimise their risk of the disease, the WCRF said.
The same study said that coffee could help protect against liver cancer, though it did not specify the amounts someone needs to drink.
It has previously linked coffee to a reduced risk of womb cancer.