Even Small Amounts of Holiday Drinking Boost Cancer Risk

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More evidence for the conventional wisdom of “everything in moderation”: even a small increase in alcohol intake can up the risk of several different kinds of cancer, according to researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, so revelers would be wise not to overindulge this holiday party season.

“Research shows that drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases your chances of developing cancer, including oral cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer,” Clare McKindley, clinical dietitian in the Cancer Prevention Center at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said in a statement. (More on Time.com: A Single Cigarette Can Raise the Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease)

Although doctors aren’t sure exactly how alcohol influences cancer development, they speculate that it is the ethanol or alcohol in liquor and beer that damages cells, making them unstable and vulnerable to cancer.

Of course, there is no shortage of evidence suggesting that drinking is good for you. One recent 10-year study of French and Irish men found that regular drinkers had a significantly lower risk of heart disease than nondrinkers or binge drinkers. And another paper found that even heavy drinkers live longer than people who abstain. (More on Time.com: 4 Reasons Binge Drinking Is a Public Health Problem)

For now, MD Anderson researchers recommend exercising moderation: one drink per day for women and two for men. They also recommend selecting low–alcohol proof liquors, or for a “non-alcoholic drink with a ‘cocktail-like’ feel, try club soda and lime.”

Or, try our favorite trick: fixing yourself a wine spritzer. It’s only half a glass of wine per serving and quite refreshing, especially in the dry heat of winter-time homes. Yes, it’s totally old-fashioned and pretty dorky, but it certainly helps keep alcohol consumption to acceptable levels.

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