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The Dangers of Drinking

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Published: 2 Feb 2010

Bertrand Russell once described drunkenness as “temporary suicide,” a phrase that might turn out to be more literally true than the great philosopher knew. Heavy drinkers of beer and spirits face a much higher risk of developing cancer than the population at large, according to a recent study published in the journal Cancer Detection and Prevention by researchers from McGill and elsewhere.

Bertrand Russell once described drunkenness as “temporary suicide,” a phrase that might turn out to be more literally true than the great philosopher knew. Heavy drinkers of beer and spirits face a much higher risk of developing cancer than the population at large, according to a recent study published in the journal Cancer Detection and Prevention by researchers from McGill, INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier and Université de Montréal.

Their findings show that people in the highest consumption category increased their risk of developing esophageal cancer sevenfold, colon cancer by 80 per cent and even lung cancer by 50 per cent.

In all, the researchers found statistically significant relationships between heavy consumption of beer and spirits and six different cancers. Moderate drinking (i.e., less than daily) and wine consumption did not show the same effects.

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