No amount of alcohol is safe for drinking, warns WHO

New Delhi: No amount of alcohol is safe to drink, the WHO has warned. Alcohol, the UN health body says, is a toxic, psychoactive, and dependence-producing substance and a Group 1 carcinogen that is causally linked to seven types of cancer, including oesophagus, liver, colorectal, and breast cancers.

“Alcohol consumption is associated with 7,40,000 new cancer cases each year globally In European Union, light to moderate alcohol consumption (< 20 g of pure alcohol per day, which is equivalent to consumption of approximately < 1.5L of wine (12% alcohol by volume; ABV), < 3.5L of beer (5% ABV), or < 450 mL of spirits (40% ABV) per week) was associated with almost 23,000 new cancer cases in 2017, ac counting for 13.3% of all alcohol-attributable cancers and for 2.3% of all cases of the seven alcohol-related cancer types,” WHO said in a statement published in The Lancet Public Health.

Some studies, the WHO concedes, have suggested that light alcohol consumption could have a small protective effect, as measured by the risk of some cardiovascular diseases or type 2 diabetes. However, it adds that no studies have shown that the potential existence of a protective effect for cardiovascular diseases or type 2 diabetes also reduces the risk of cancer for an individual consumer.

“Evidence doesn’t indicate the existence of a particular threshold at which the carcinogenic effects of alcohol start to manifest in the human body.” WHO says.

Dr SK Sarin, vice-chancellor of New Delhi-based Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) said people who are obese, have family history of alcoholic-related liver diseases, diabetes and pregnant women are most vulnerable to liver damage due to alcohol consumption.

“People do not want to believe this until they develop the disease. That’s why creating awareness about the harms of excessive drinking is the need of the hour,” Dr Sarin said, adding that 4753% of all patients admitted to their hospital have liverrelated conditions caused due to alcohol consumption.

Alcohol use is among the leading risk factors for premature mortality and disability because of its of its causal relationship with multiple health conditions.