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Drinking may raise risk of intestinal cancer

Drinking more than the equivalent of two large glasses of wine a day may increase the risk of intestinal cancer, a study of nearly 500,000 people worldwide has found.
/ Source: Reuters

Shakespeare said drinking gives you a red nose, makes you pee and sends you to sleep, but a study published this week shows it can also lead to intestinal cancer, something Britain’s bard didn’t warn about. Drinking more than 1.058 ounces of alcohol a day -- the equivalent of two large glasses of wine -- can increase the risk of getting cancer of the lower intestine, the study of nearly 500,000 people worldwide showed.

“The risk starts at this level,” said Dr Alicja Wolk, professor of nutritional epidemiology at Sweden’s National Institute of Environmental Medicine and an author of the study.

Nor does switching your favorite tipple help. Beer and spirits are just as bad for you, the study by researchers in the United States and Europe shows.

But the scientists are not complete kill-joys. Small amounts of alcohol are not completely frowned upon.

“One glass (of wine) a day is still OK and it even may be recommended for cardiovascular diseases,” Wolk said.

If you do drink, however, there may be a way to reduce the risk of intestinal cancer.

The study, published in the journal the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that people taking multi-vitamins showed no increased risk of the disease, even if their alcohol intake was above the 30 grams per day threshold.

Wolk said the folic acid in multi-vitamins can provide some protection against damage to the body from alcohol.