When it comes to limiting your risk of cancer, there is no such thing as a safe' amount of alcohol, says a new study.
The findings will come as bad news for people who enjoy a daily tipple.
A team led by Paule Latino-Martel of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research said most nations including the UK and the U.S. set their drink limit guidelines to deal with short-term effects of alcohol and fail to take into account the long-term risks of light boozing.
There is no level of alcohol consumption for which the cancer risk is null, they concluded.
Latino-Martel and her colleagues said the WHO International Agency of Research on Cancer had found alcohol to be carcinogenic in both animals and humans.
They added that a joint 2007 report of the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research warned of the link between alcohol and cancers in the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon-rectum and breast cancers.
Therefore, the current sensible drinking' limits are inadequate for the prevention of cancer and new international guidelines are needed, they said.
On the whole, alcohol is considered an avoidable risk factor for cancer incidence and, more generally, for the global burden of disease, the Daily Mail quoted Latino-Martel as saying.
Although guidelines are currently practical for health professionals and health authorities, the time has come to reconsider them using a scientific basis independent of any cultural and economic considerations and to discuss the eventuality of abandoning them,'' she said.
Considering our current knowledge of the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer risk, national health authorities should be aware of the possible legal consequences of promoting drinking guidelines that allow consumers to believe that drinking at low or moderate levels is without risk, she added.
The study appears in the Canadian Medical Association Journal .