Dr. Andrea Benedetti of McGill University, Dr. Marie-Elise Parent of INRS-Institut Armand Frappier and Dr. Jack Siemiatycki of the University of Montreal said they compared people who drank heavily to a reference group, who abstained or drank only very occasionally.
The researchers used data collected for a large occupational cancer study conducted in Montreal in the 1980s that involved lifetime interviews on job histories, alcohol, smoking cigarettes, diet and socioeconomic status.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Detection and Prevention, found people in the highest alcohol consumption category increased their risk of developing esophageal cancer sevenfold, colon cancer by 80 percent and lung cancer by 50 percent as well as increased cancer risk for stomach cancer, liver cancer and prostate cancer, rectum and pancreas.
"For the most part we showed that light drinkers were less affected or not affected at all," said Benedetti. "It is people who drink every day or multiple times a day who are at risk."
Moderate drinking -- less than daily -- and wine consumption did not show the same effects, the study said.
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